I actually built a PC using a technology called MythTV (Free & Opensource) that with the right equipment will allow you to operate your TV exactly like a DVR only with more capabilities without every paying a monthly subscription.
Some of the features I like and use are:
- Basic Live TV Functionality (Pause, Rewind, etc)
- Using the Menu Guide and Recording a season of my shows
- Commercial Detection & Skipping
- Picture in Picture
- Burn Recorded Programs to DVD
- Quick access to Weather.com Local Data
- MP3 Playing System
- Picture Viewing System
- DVD Player
- And my RSS News Feed
I figure my investment was around $500.00. But I have no monthly fees and never will. I get my program guide automatically through the Myth box.. I have unlimited potential on HD space and total recordings. I like it..
If you want to learn more about it, check out www.MythTV.org