If want to buy a high-def DVR but aren't interested in satellite programming, you first need to decide whether you want to receive and record just over-the-air high-def channels or cable channels as well. LG's LST-3410A HDTV receiver/DVR ($899) has a 120-GB hard drive that can hold 12 hours of HD programs or 120 hours of standard-definition programs. While it's designed to be used with an antenna, it also has a QAM tuner for receiving unscrambled cable channels. Though the unscrambled lineup varies by cable system, that might include the digital versions of your local ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox stations, but won't include premium channels like HBO.
Until recently, you had to use a cable box to decrypt all the channels you subscribe to, but a conditional-access device called CableCARD that you lease from your cable company has been showing up in more and more high-def TVs and components. Sony and Mitsubishi now offer recorder/tuners that can accept a CableCARD. The 500-GB drive on Sony's DHG-HDD500 ($999, reviewed in October) can hold 60 hours of HD shows. (There's also a 250-GB model, the DHG-HDD250, for $800.) Mitsubishi's HD-6000 box ($2,100) has a 120-GB drive good for storing about 12 hours of high-def programs. But unlike the Sony model, the Mitsubishi comes with an IEEE 1394 (FireWire) connection so you can daisy-chain hard drives or dub your recordings to a D-VHS deck.
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