Best deal: http:///index.php?id=B0014F7Z94
I bought the Panasonic DMR-EX28K DVD recorder as a replacement for our VCR. I did not go the DVR route because I wanted to own a device and not have to pay ongoing subscription rates. I've been using the device for about 6 months now, and I haven't had to spend anything beyond the initial cost of the unit and a package of DVD-RW+ for recording.
I chose this particular unit because there were not many options available that included a tuner. The tuner is important because you cannot setup scheduled recordings or watch one program while recording another without a tuner. This has not changed from the VCR days. What has changed is that the cable and satellite companies have put a lot of pressure on the electronics companies to minimize competition with their DVR units.
The performance of this unit reflects the lack of competition as I would love to have a better performing alternative. Setup of the unit is not complicated, but it is slow. After you connect everything and turn it on, the process of scanning for available channels is very slow - about 15 to 20 minutes. Once set up, it is pretty easy to schedule recordings of your TV shows. You can choose either one time or a repeating weekly program. It allows you to balance picture quality with the number of hours you can record on a disk. The higher the quality, the less you can fit on a single disk. When it does the right thing, the device does a good job.
However, it can behave in flaky ways. I originally set it up to automatically set the time. This turned out to be a bad idea as the clock mysteriously jumped 20 minutes ahead, and I didn't discover this until after one of my scheduled recordings was butchered. The "Function" menu also doesn't always behave properly. This is the menu that you have to use to delete old programs before you can reuse a disk. Sometimes when I select the "Delete" option on the menu, selecting the OK button *plays* the selection rather than *deleting* it. Exiting out of the menu and coming back in clears it up, but what's up with that? The other problem I have is with the execution of deletes. Sometimes the device will hang while deleting a selection, and powering off the device is the only way to get it unstuck. After powering back up, I find that the deletion was successful. However it is annoying. Finally, the device occasionally locks up to the point that it can't even be powered off. The only way out of this is to unplug the device and plug it back in.
Overall, I would rather have a different DVD recorder. However, at the time I found that there just weren't many viable alternatives in this product space. I work around the frustrations because I can ultimately get the device to do what I want it to. I just wish it didn't take so much effort. I would recommend that you check for alternatives before buying this unit.
I bought this 3 months ago to pre-empt the switch to digital TV and have my old VHS VCR not work. I own a standard digitial TV but no cable, no satellite or fiber-optic. Just over-the-air signal and want to keep recording TV shows. Using TDK DVD-RW disks and it works great. I did have to get a powered TV antenna. You do need to be pulling in a good signal or the recording did freeze-up sometimes. I bought mine at Circuit City when they were closing. Menus are simple and I keep reusing the same d