There’s always the option of the DVR through your cable operator. Of course, you have to pay for digital cable as well, so that may not be the best option if you just watch basic cable all the time. I had a Cox DVR when I lived in Louisiana, and now I have a TimeWarner one in Austin. The Cox DVR was infinitely better: easy to browse/search menus, more search options, the ability to restart a program when you turn on your TV, an automatic short rewind after you fast-forward (good when you’re going through ads), pleasant interface, etc. The TimeWarner one is getting better, but still has a lot of problems. It tends to randomly cut off programs or decide not to record them (though this happens much less than it used to). You can only use the alphabetical title search for one day at a time - and you have to scroll through everything with that first letter. With Cox, you can type in the title, and it searches through the entire week. (Plus, you can usually search by actor or theme.) My DVR also tends to randomly shut off and restart itself a couple of times a week. The interface is clunky and hard to work with. There is one nice advantage that TimeWarner recently introduced, though. It’s called “Start Over” - you can press a button that starts over your program, even if you just switched to that channel. It’s not available on all channels/programs yet, but it’s handy if I tune into The Daily Show a few minutes late or if I’m channel-surfing and hit an episode of Law and Order: Criminal Intent that I don’t recognize.
Anyway, I’d definitely recommend the Cox DVR if you get Cox cable service. From the limited experience I’ve had with TiVo, I’d say they’re roughly comprable. TiVo does have some more bells and whistles, though. TimeWarner is OK if that’s all you have. I don’t want to invest in buying a TiVo set right now, so it works for me. You could do better, though. A friend of mine went from having the Cox DVR to the DirectTV DVR and she also prefers Cox. I don’t know anything about Comcast or the other cable/satellite boxes.