After only like 2 years of thinking about it I finally got an HDD recorder (think Tivo).
The biggest reason I didn't get one earlier is they are EXPENSIVE in Japan. Tivo was the first in the states (I think) and their business model was sell you the hardware cheap and make you pay for the service. No one has really done that in Japan. Almost all the various units are not attached to any service. That means instead of like a Tivo which is/was $300˜$400 the Japanese HDD recorders were more like $1000˜$1500!!! This last year they came down to around $600 at the low end but still that was more than I wanted to spend.
But, recently Sony dropped the price on the PSX. The 5100 model with a 160HD is 44800yen including tax at Yodobashi Camera. That comes out to about $375.00 U.S. The next cheapest 160HD Recorder is around 58000 yen (about $480) and that doesn't include a PS2 built in (not that I needed another PS2). Note that most Japanese HDD recorders include a DVD recorder so that is one obvious reason for the higher price over a Tivo.
Anyway, they are not nearly as cool as Tivo in terms of recording TV programs. You don't pick a program to record and let it figure out when it's on like Tivo nor do they record other programs you might be interested in automatically. Instead you program it just like a VCR. You give it a start and stop time. To help you with that task there is a free service called G-Guide which most of the latest HDD recorders support. That service broadcasts its data over a sideband of one of the TV stations and the HDD recorders save the data and provide you with a program listing for the next 2 weeks. You can browse the listing and pick programs to record. Of course you can set it to record something at the same time every day or every week but it's set to the time, not the program so if the program gets moved or pre−empted or if it's on at another time then you are out of luck unless you manually notice and fix it.
They do give you the ability to filter the listing by keyword so if you are looking for "Friends" you can enter that in and see only programs with the word "Friends" in their title.
One thing the PSX has over most of the other units though, as far as I can tell, is the PSX is running a PS2 inside which is a full−on computer. That means they can update the software. Even better, the system has an ethernet connection so they could update it over the net. Hopefully Sony will get a clue and add a Tivo like service. The funny thing is, supposedly they have one. It's called Cocoon but it's a completely separate division from the division that makes the PSX and the other division that makes the SugoRoku (スゴ録) (Sony's other HDD recorder series).
Because of this ethernet connection they could add so many features if they wanted to. I'm not sure they have the clue they need to do it. For example they could do something like Q-CAST. That would really ROCK but so far I'm not even sure if Sony Japan has even heard of Q−CAST or XBMC for that matter. The PSX could do this today. If they don't, some company will and that company has the chance to be the iPod of AV units meaning the top selling AV equipment that everyone wants. Of course with the lowered price PSX has become the top selling AV equipment in Japan.
Anyway, none of that is the point of this post 😛
I wanted an HDD recorder specifically because watching Japanese TV is supposed to be good for Japanese practice but Japanese TV is pretty dang boring. So, using an HDD recorder, hopefully I can more easily record those few programs that are actually interesting and then when I end up having time to watch TV I'll have something I actually want to watch.
My current list is pretty much only 2 programs. One Piece, an anime program which I was already able to get through other channels and Shaberi−ba (しゃべり場）, a youth debate program.
So, tell me, what other programs are out there that are at all interesting? I'm sure everyone has different tastes but any recommendations are welcome. At a mimimum please tell me the name, time and channel and I'll take a look.