Background: About 7 years ago, I bought the Apex AD-600A DVD player with the secret menu that allowed you to disable region coding and Macrovision. You could then copy a DVD movie to VHS tape with no problem, as long as the DVD did not have seamless branching, something the Apex had trouble with. I later bought a Daewoo 5800 DVD player and a Cyberhome CH500 DVD player, both models that played newer DVDs better and could be modified using a firmware hack that removed Macrovision. All these units are gathering dust because new computer technology and the declining cost of DVD-Rs made them obsolete. Software programs like DVDDecrypter and DVDShrink make it unnecessary to have a hacked DVD player, since you can now make DVDRs that are scrubbed of all those pesky features inserted in movie DVDs, including built-in software that prevents you from going directly to the menu. But there is one area where computer programs are troublesome, and that is digitizing VHS tape.
HDD DVD recorders from major Japanese electronics companies are great at digitizing VHS tape. The interface on the Panasonic DMR E-80, which I use to copy VHS tapes, has a steep learning curve thanks to its pretty bad manual, but the DVD-Rs it burns in XP and SP speed are super. As long as you use good media. For whatever reason, the good, relatively low priced HDD DVD recorders have had only a 4 year window of sales in the United States from 2003 to March 2007.
While HD-DVD recorders appear to have great image quality, regular HDD DVD recorders with their 500 lines resolution are good enough for most people. But good HDD DVD recorders cannot be bought now in the United States, with Philips having the market to itself with its third rate HDD DVD recorder. The practical effect of the FCC requirement to have all DVD recorders come with ATSC tuners is to protect Tivo and the cable companies' satellite television boxes/digital video recorders from competition from consumers who would buy their own DVR, a HDD DVD recorder.
You can be sure of one thing, if there were well made HDD DVD recorders on the market today in the US, there would be plenty of customers who would use the units like a no subscription cost Tivo.