First of all, I love my TiVo. I bought an HD-XL right here in Woot a while back for $180 & can't imagine going back to the old DVR. That said, beware of your sneaky cable company. I'm in FL, with Brighthouse (= Time Warner).
I started with just the dual cable card & had no problem getting it to work. It needed a tech visit (they wouldn't let me do it myself), but there was no extra charge, only the inconvenience of taking the day off.
6 months later I lost 80% of the digital channels & was told I needed the separate tuner. For additional rent of course. Between the fees for TiVo & the card, I was already paying $1 over Brighthouse's own DVR, so I seriously considered going back, but stuck with TiVo instead (yes, it's that good).
With the tuner I got all my channels, but the tuner itself died a couple of months later & it took about 8 more visits to have it replaced twice! For some reason Brighthouse insists only their senior techs can replace tuners, but then will send a regular tech over, or a senior one without equipment. They won't let you exchange tuners at the local store either. It was a nightmare & I wrote letters to both TiVo & Brighthouse, because that smells too much of harassment in order to get people to switch to their DVR.
As much as I wish I had access to On Demand stuff or could save a few extra bucks, I'm sticking with TiVo. Cable companies are supposed to support it, regardless of how reluctant they may be about it & I refuse to let anyone annoy me into giving them extra $. For any newbies out there though, be aware that you may have to stand (loudly) for your rights.
The TiVo's recording features are sweet, & my favorites are:
* TiVo will automatically record shows that conflict with others as long as they repeat later.
* You can save personalized searches (ie: favorite actor, summary) & have them record automatically. Very useful for Shark Week & favorites appearances in talk shows.
* TiVo sends you messages when there's a channel lineup change & will adjust recordings if necessary.
* Lots of options on what to record, how long to keep it, how many episodes to keep.
* You can filter the menu to show only the channels you get or only your favorites.
* You can also filter the menu for a specific date, no need to scroll over & over to find next week.
* Ability to search & tag for recordings online.
* Ability to jump through the commercials in 30-second leaps.
* Lots of free music channels.
My older model doesn't have the nice picture-in-picture or the 4 tuners, but I can't justify buying a new one just for that. The HDD is double the size of mine, but I can use an external eSATA drive when I run out of space.