Wow - it's been a while since this thread's been touched!
I have an update on the USB port problem I posted about a few months ago. If your USB port stops working, you may be able to fix it depending on how old your Homeworx is. My oldest one had the USB port mounted on a tiny circuit board (about the size of a postage stamp) which was hot-glued to the front panel. It was easy to pull that out for repair. It turned out that flexing the port by plugging and unplugging USB cables had broken the circuit board traces, and I was able to repair it by bridging the breaks with solder.
Unfortunately, that fix didn't last: the traces eventually broke again. So, the second time I went for a more permanent fix. I desoldered the USB port from the circuit board, cut off the 4-conductor cable connecting the circuit board to the HW's main board, and soldered the cable's four wires directly to the USB port. However, the 4-conductor cable was then too short for the USB port to reach all the way to the front panel.
I could have finished the fix with just a short USB extension cable, and that's probably the easiest fix; but instead I got fancy: I went to Fry's and found the smallest, cheapest USB hub I could, which in my case was this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16817205011
. (It actually cost me $6 at Fry's; Newegg's price is a bit higher at $9.) I plugged that into the USB port inside the Homeworx and ran the first of the hub's full-size ports to the front panel. Then I plugged a USB extension cable into the front panel to hold that port in place. (I could probably hot-glue it to make this fix somewhat permanent, but for now I'll just remember not to unplug the extension.)
I then connected the second
of the hub's ports to a PNY Attache 64GB thumb drive which I'd tested with the Homeworx earlier. I was able to just barely fit the hub and thumb drive inside the Homeworx.
Now I have a Homeworx with a 64GB internal drive, and I can still plug a HDD into the extension cable. Because of the ports I used, if I plug in a HDD, the HDD is C and the thumb drive is D; if I don't plug in a HDD, the thumb drive is C. So the Homeworx always defaults to the external HDD if one's plugged in, but I can still select the thumb drive inside if I want to watch something I recorded on it earlier.
I'm explaining all this because it occurs to me that Mediasonic (or iView or any of the other clones) could easily design a box, with everything I crammed into mine, already built onto the main circuit board, and sell it for around $70. They wouldn't even need to change one byte of the firmware! I think it might sell, because you wouldn't need to buy an HDD to use the HW's time-shift, record, and playback functions - but you still could if you wanted. Also, there's a fall-back drive inside if you ever mess up and have left your external drive unplugged when a recording starts.
The only drawback I've found is that, without a firmware change, anything recorded on the internal flash drive is "trapped" there, with no way to copy it to an external HDD. But, hey; Channel Master's DVR+ has the same drawback.
Of course the DVR+ is in another league with two tuners, an Internet-provided two-week program guide, and apps for Internet-based TV. But I wasn't trying to turn my Homeworx into a DVR+ - just to turn the lemon of a broken USB port into a little lemonade, in the form of the extra convenience of not needing to bring along an HDD if I take my HW on a trip.