Media Server as PVR
Some digital media serversparticularly those that call themselves entertainment PCscan also function as hard disk personal video recorders (PVRs). A server-based PVR functions like a TiVo unit, but without TiVo's monthly subscription fees. You get use of some sort of onscreen program guide (typically free, but not always); use this guide to schedule programs to record. Of course, this means that you have to connect your media server to your cable or satellite dish, and then to your TV. No big problem there.
The problem comes in the size of the hard disk. An 80GB hard disk can store about 24 hours of television programming. Sounds like a lot, until you actually start recording. (That's one whole season of The West Wing, but nothing else.) A small hard disk can also be a limitation if you use your media server for both video recording and CD storage. As always, the bigger the hard disk, the better.