|Are there any HD PVR's that do not require a subscription service or use a one-time fee?
I assume by HD PVR you mean HDTV PVRs.
Yes, the LG 3410 DVR, but it doesn't support encrypted HDTV channels (ESPN-HD, DiscoveryHD, HBO-HD) from cable or satellite. It's primarily for HDTV channels from an antenna. The box also has a number of limitations, such as the inability to record one program while watching another, and the inability to watch a previous recording while recording a new program.
These days, you basically have two choices:
- $800-$900 HDTV DVR with limited functionality and limited usability, no software updates, and no DVR fee;
- $900 HDTV DVR with excellent functionality, excellent usability, and free software updates, but with $5/mo DVR fee.
I would take #2 (HDTV DirecTivo) every time. Some people would rather have #1 just out of principle, and that makes no sense to me.
If you'd still prefer #1, Sony plans to release a CableCard HDTV DVR in November. This will be similar to the LG 3410, except it will support encrypted HDTV channels like ESPN-HD, DiscoveryHD, and HBO-HD from your cable company. Depending on your cable company, you may be hit with a $2.50 to $6.50/mo fee to rent the CableCard (decryption card) to put in the box, however.