Well, I just sort of replaced a VCR with a DVD Recorder (Panny ES15). I plan to use it to record shows each week and make copies of VHSC and MiniDv home movies. Here was my logic for choosing an analog unit like the ES15.:
1) Analog signals will still be around for 2 years; maybe longer.
2) ATSC---new digital signal WILL appear in 2009 BUT unless you have an antenna on your roof you likely will not take advantage of it. The cable company will/does broadcast in ATSC but scrambles the signal on most channels.
3) A QAM tuner descrambles the cable company's signal TODAY.
4) So, if you are going to get a unit with a digital tuner, it may pick up some over the air (antenna on roof) stations today, it may pick up some cable company stations today (with out a cable box) but it may not. Of course you can buy one with both an ATSC tuner and QAM tuner. However, who is to say the cable company will not scramble in some other fashion in 2009 rendering your tuners useless?
All this said, an analog or digital unit would certainly still work come 2009. You may just need to use you cable box as its' tuner. Then you have the 1970's nuisance of setting your recorder to channel 4 all the time and having to remember to leave the cable box set to the channel you want to record AND on. Oh yea, then you really can't watch something else while recording. It's a real pain and I think are MANY unknowns as to what is actually going to happen in 2009. The whole industry seams to be driving towards forcing everyone to rent dual tuner cable boxes with built - in DRVs. That works great but now you are paying $13 a month for what the VCR was doing for free!
My logic was this. A dvd recorder with an ATSC / QAM tuner was $200. The analog ES15 was $100. I bought the ES15. In two years from now the ATSC/QAM turns out to have been the way to go I will get one AND by then its cost will likely be down to $100. Either way you are out about the same amount of money. My way I end up with 2 recorders.
That's how I saw it any way----good luck!