Despite claims to the contrary you can get by with out a subscription - you can set the recording manually althought the play list will only give you date and channel you have recorded. I find this pretty satisfactory. The critical advantage of Tivo - no tape, high quality, instant access and easy recording is still there. The on screen manual recording is very easy to set up, far more so then most VCR screens! As I have two machines I find paying £30 for two subscriptions a bit steep. One particularly useful function of a second tivo is to transfer to it DVD I have rented from BlockBuster, Sky Box office or the library - this allows me to enjoy them for longer - but they cannot be transferred to a VCR or DVD recorder - macrovision prevents it!