Well as far as alternatives being less reliable... I had a Tivo, or should I say HAVE a Tivo from DirecTV.
It worked flawlessly. Not one single problem. Not one single show lost because the box freaked out and only recorded 1 minute.
But you are right... they are expensive. But as bad as this POS is I think I may just fork over the cash for an HD Tivo and be done with it... my sanity is more important to me.
Oh BTW now my box does a whole new and exciting thing... it records programs and when I go to view them it won't allow me to fast forward, pause, or rewind.
And as an added bonus sometimes when I try to view the program it just runs in fast forward.
So as far as these boxes being "quite good" ummm no... believe me they suck. Saw the cable guy this weekend with one under his arm as he's walking down the hall.
I say, "Hey those boxes really suck."
He says, "Yeah I know... this is the third time I've replaced these people's box this month."
I say, "Well replacing them doesn't seem to help."
He says, "Yep... but that's what we keep doing anyway."