Today I was looking at the Japanese version of a Replay TV/Tivo. I've been wanting one for about a year. A common complaint among foreigners is how boring Japanese TV is. It's so boring that I almost never even turn my TV on anymore. But, in order to learn Japanese I NEED to watch more TV. TV interesting enough that I will actually watch it instead of start to daydream about something else. There are a few programs I find interesting but I'm almost never home to watch them so last August I started looking.
In America a Tivo or Replay TV can be bought for as little as $400. Here in Japan though the cheapest HDD Recorder as they call them is/was around $1200!!! That's why I don't have one yet. The biggest difference is in the Japanese market the recorders are not associated with any service. Tivo and Replay TV make much of their money by charging you $10 a month for their service that gets the TV schedule for you making it easy to pick the shows you want to watch. Tivo's service even goes so far as to record programs similar to the ones you picked. In other words if you pick a golf game, it will record all golf games it can to an space your are not using. All the Japanese ones though just work like a VCR. You enter the time you want it to record. They have no knowledge of TV programs per se.
But, I found out that recently (or maybe not so recently), Sony actually released one that does have a service. It's the Sony Channel Server. But it has one feature I don't think the American ones have yet. That is that you can access a webpage of the service and program your recorder from anywhere you have webpage access. That includes your cellphone. So, if you are out and you forgot to set it up to record something or if your plans change and you are going to be out when originally you thought you'd be home to catch your favorite program you just access that webpage and tell your recorder to recorder it. Pretty slick!!
The only thing preventing my from buying it other than money is that currently I have two choices. Toshiba and Panasonic's HDD recorders also include DVD Recorders so any programs you save to the hard disc you can put on DVD. You can also put your video camera movies on the HD and DVD too. But, those systems don't have the service. That's not such a big deal. The problem is, most likely within the next 2 or 3 months, Sony will release a DVD/HD Recorder that also connects to their service in which case I'll be banging my head against the wall wondering why I didn't wait.