Get a Ceton InfiniTV 4 tuner for $199
This excellent CableCard adapter brings four HD tuners to your Windows Media Center PC. Over the long run, it costs way less than TiVo.
Don't get me wrong, I like TiVo. What I don't like is the $19.99/month subscription fee that goes along with it. That's $240 per year, folks.
A much cheaper option over the long haul: Ceton's InfiniTV 4 products, which can turn a Windows 7 PC into one of the best DVRs on the planet.
That's not a sale price; it's a permanent reduction. And it's perhaps the best $200 you'll ever spend.
I don't mean to gush, but I take my TV very seriously--and I absolutely love the InfiniTV 4. I ran the PCI version for about a year, and for the past few months have been using the USB model. Both performed beautifully.
The InfiniTV 4 plays host to a CableCard tuner from your cable company. Once installed, it bestows four digital tuners. (Only the superpricey TiVo Elite can match that; other models, and most cableco DVRs, have only two.)
Those tuners can receive all your HD and premium channels--pretty much everything the cable company offers except for on-demand and pay-per-view programming.
Plus, there's no monthly fee on top of what you're already paying for cable. Windows Media Center is free, and built right into all versions of Windows 7 except Basic. What's more, when I ditched my Comcast DVR for a CableCard, it actually lowered my Comcast bill a few bucks each month.
I think for most users, the USB version is the smarter buy, as it's just plug-and-play. The PCI model requires a PCI slot, naturally, and a fairly roomy one at that.
Want to learn more about the InfiniTV 4 USB (and, by proxy, the PCI version)? Alas, CNET hasn't reviewed it, but I have. Bottom line: I love it.
Do make sure your PC has sufficient horsepower for HDTV viewing and recording, and that your cable company can set you up with a CableCard. If all that checks out, you're golden.
By the way, if it's not practical or desirable for you to connect your PC to your TV, an Xbox 360 makes an awesome Media Center Extender.
Bonus deal: Ending today, TigerDirect has the refurbished Vizio VSB200 Sound Bar for $49.99 shipped. That's after redeeming a $30 mail-in rebate (PDF). Even without it, that's a sweet deal on a highly rated sound bar. The only catch is the warranty, which is a paltry 30 days.