My mom's satellite TV receiver was doing the same thing ours was--locking up every hour or so. The picture would freeze (often capturing an admittedly amusing facial expression) and we'd have to unplug it and plug it back in to get it back. Mom and I had the same exact receiver (a 1995-vintage RCA unit), so it was kind of interesting that they were both failing in the exact same way.
While up there weekend before last, mom had me go with her to just buy her a new one--she'd had it with the interruptions. I dread buying these things, because of the hassle with activating, and access cards, and phone calls, blah blah blah, but we got through it with surprisingly little fuss. And man, satellite TV receivers are TINY these days! Her new one is a dinky little console-style set top box with many snazzy features she will never use and a faster, more intuitive user interface.
So Kate and I had been half-joking about getting a TiVo for a long time... being Luddites we wanted to be sure we were the last people in our crowd to buy one (actually, Kate's the Luddite; I'm merely a staunch anti-early-adopter). Given the smooth experience of getting mom's receiver, I was encouraged, sort of on a whim, to just take the plunge.
I hadn't been keeping up with the plunging prices of these things, so when I found one that I thought was a reasonable price, I bought it. Well, what I thought was a reasonable price for a plain DirecTV DVR was actually a reasonable price for the newest, "third-generation" DVR (I found out today that "plain Jane" satellite DVR's are way down under $100 now, if that's to be believed). So we got a much nicer contraption that I would have normally allowed myself.
And holy cow, is this thing nice. Kate and I both immediately got into recording things, doing the thumbs-up thumbs-down thing, and just generally behaving like a couple of conspicuous consumer geeks.
So, talk about high spousal acceptance factor! This thing is clearly going to make us into, if nothing else, much more "honest" TV watchers.
Now if it would just stop recording every home improvement show it sees.