The only Combo units I would want as a main unit are the Panasonic's.
Panasonic Models that have an HDMI Output are the DMR-ES45V or the DMR-ES46V, which is the same as the 45V but comes with an included HDMI Cable & is sold only at Warehouse Clubs (Sam's, Costco & Etc).
The Panasonic DMR-EH75V has an HDMI Output & an 80GB HDD.
Prices for the 45V/46V are around $270 - $300 & for the H75V around $400
If he wants to go the cheaper route without an HDMI Output & HDD then take a look at the Funai Combos that have been getting good reviews & are sold at Wal-Mart under the names of SV2000 & Magnavox or PYE at Circuit City & at other stores under Sylvania, Symphonic, or Emerson brands. At one time Wal-Mart had the SV2000 Combo on sale for only $99.00 & it may still be that price?
But as I said above, if it's going to be the "Main" DVD/VCR Recorder in a system than I would stick with a Panasonic unit.