I ended up with the Topfield TF5000PVRt Masterpiece, that is a standard definition digital receiver with two independent tuners, plus a 160GB Personal Video Recorder that essentially replaces our VCR with a fully digital recording solution. Works brilliantly.
With two tuners I can record two shows at once and even watch an already recorded show off the hard drive while recording two others (I don’t think any other product on the market can do that yet). The PVR is always recording up to the last hour of whatever is currently showing, so I can effectively “rewind” the live TV broadcasts. I can even pause the live TV (recording starts automatically), and then go back to it later – for example, if the phone rings, or I have to go and do something else … and then play it back when I’m ready, fast forwarding through the adverts until I catch up to the live broadcast. There are so many things you can do with this.
And the picture is amazing. Sure, it’s not high definition, but on our 10 year old 68cm Sony Trinitron TV it looks fantastic – way better than it ever did before with an analog signal.
It’s pretty complicated – there’s so many things you can do with it (heck, you can even reprogram it and add your own functionality by hooking it up to your computer and uploading new programs), but it’s very powerful. My wife can successfully watch TV – so it’s not that difficult.