last year's model had amazing specs. but it was based off of a windows os and always crashed...but you would have never known just by looking at the specs.
couple of things that will turn me away from this one:
1.)it looks like from the specs you listed, they dropped the windows based menu...so it might give you a completely different feel when using it.
2.) it DOESNT RECORD ANYTHING IN HD. it just upconverts dvd's.
3.) you said something about EASILY transferring the stuff you have on the harddrive to your laptop. the obvious is that there will most likely be compatibility issues and the firewire on the unit is only for firmware upgrades and camcorders...NOT for transferring files. last year's model was able to stream videos to the computer through a network through the internet. here is my question for you...it states "dvfx recording process"...so even if you were able to transfer those files onto your comp...what do you plan on doing with it? i highly doubt it will be recorded in an easy to work with format. and it might almost be a proprietery format.
4.) aside from the highly inflated "320 hours of recording time", these features can be found in many different non-hdd dvd recorders already.
i am in no way saying you should or should not buy this unit. i was close to buying last year's model myself until i had a chance to get tivo with subscription for a year for free(which was a tested and very well made system). i did not even bring in the fact that copy right protection may limit you even more.
my suggestion would be to actually buy it from a store with a good return policy (30 days, no restocking fee, item can be opened and used a little bit). see if it is exactly what you are looking for. this looks good on paper.........but its like a tv with 1035901935019350910x10359103950p resolution that you can buy at your local supermarket next to the fruit department.....the bigger the number doesnt always mean it is the better product.