Used Pioneer 310s are sorta rare now, they aren't as common as the 2004 and later models. OTOH, many used 310s actually still do work, while later models often have problems (due to a widespread contaminated parts issue that afflicted the electronics industry between 2003-2006). If you can find a nice used 310 that still works for under $100, it can be a decent value assuming it continues to work for at least a year. $64 is a great price, and you can typically find them for that or less on Craig's List if not eBay. Sometimes you'll see a model 210 for sale: these are identical to the 310, it was just a special model number used by CostCo. The 510 was a 310 with 80GB HDD, an incredible buy if you can find it near $100.
If your electronics repair guy charges reasonable fees, another option is to look for a "dead" Pioneer 220 or 225 on Craig's List. These often sell for under $50, they suffered from premature failure of the power supply due to contaminated capacitors. This is a relatively simple repair using generic cheap parts, so if you can snag one of these for $35 and get it fixed for not more than $50, they're a good deal for Pioneer fans. Note, however, you must specifically look for a unit that "doesn't power on," these are good candidates for repair because their burners are usually still functional. Avoid any Pioneer with "can't read or can't burn" issues, these have drive problems like your own 310. The Pioneer 220 and 225 (CostCo) were successors to the 210/310 and work exactly the same, only difference is cosmetic appearance and use of 107 burner inside instead of 106.
Still in all, if it were me, I'd just get the Magnavox 533
and be done with it. All these older Pioneers are going to fail, the burners are just too damned old and they aren't programmed to deal with current DVD-R for burning and sometimes even playback. The Magnavox
burner has proven quite stunningly durable and compatible, since its introduction nearly six years ago the reported failure rate has been astonishingly low compared to similar recorders at twice the price. I understand you only really want a recorder to make DVD backups from your DirecTV PVR, but don't discount the utility of having an HDD in your DVD recorder: it allows you to just dump the contents of your DirecTV at any time without needing any DVDs or paying attention to the process. Later, when you have time to sit down and burn the DVDs, the Magnavox
hard drive allows you to easily edit out commercials before burning the DVDs at high speed (15 mins each). It also lets you burn multiple copies quickly to share with friends/relatives. Back in 2003, the price of the Pioneer 310 without HDD was $349 while the 510 with HDD was nearly $700: cost alone made the non-HDD model a necessity for those on tight budgets. Today, at only $208, the Magnavox
makes enjoying the HDD convenience available to everyone. Consider the DTV tuner and HDMI features a bonus in case you ever need them, meantime the Magnavox
will connect to your DirecTV box just like the Pioneer 310 and play thru your TV component inputs as you prefer.
Surprisingly few DVD recorders remain available new in USA/Canada, most are very overpriced Magnavox or Toshiba DVD-only or DVD/VHS models without hard drives or even tuners, yet they typically run just $50-70 less than a Magnavox 533
. As a long-term investment, the 533 with HDD and tuner will hold its value, with crucial repair parts like DVD burner remaining available from the mfr at reasonable cost. Given a choice of buying a new Magnavox 533 and then not having to worry for the next five years, or buying/repairing an old Pioneer and worrying it will drop dead every time I push the power button, I'd personally go for the newer recorder. (You could also consider the Panasonic EH59
, a luxurious DVD/HDD model, but that is a grey-market import with no mfr warranty selling for $300-400 depending on availability month to month.)
I love my Pioneer recorders and will be sad when the last one eventually dies on me, but times change. We have to know when to let go of old favorites, and understand when something is no longer viable for repair. Many older consumers are shocked to discover their fancy new flatscreen is not feasible to repair if it breaks three years after they bought it: modern TVs are as disposable as Kleenex. DVD recorders fall into the same category. The days of keeping a Sony Trinitron or Pioneer stereo receiver or Panasonic VCR going for 20 years with only occasional minor repair by a tech down the street are over forever.