So, my sweetie bought me a Lite-On 5005x DVD-Recorder for my birthday. OK, it didn't exactly involve mind-reading on her part, since I basically sent her a link to the order page on Amazon.com and said, "Gee, one of these would be really nice...hint, hint". Still, check this out: It records on damn near anything - DVDs in all the writeable formats, and CD-R/RW, both VCD and audio CD format. That was actually the main thing I was looking for - I have some old audio tapes I'd like to transfer to CD, and it seemed logical that a DVD recorder ought to also be able to record audio CDs, although this is one of the only models I could find that actually claims to be able to do so.
But that's not even the coolest part. The coolest part is that after finding this and deciding it was the one I wanted, I did a little online research and discovered that there is a simple-to-apply firmware hack that enables an additional (3-hour) LP recording mode, turns it into a region-free DVD player, and disables the Macrovision copy protection. So, I now have the ability to watch DVDs with any region encoding, and copy prerecorded (and copy-protected) VHS tapes or DVDs to a new DVD.
At the moment, I'm unwinding after hooking it up. I need to unwind because, while hooking it up, I decided I needed to dismantle my entire home audio/theater setup and reconnect everything. The cords had simply become far too entangled. Plus, the glass shelves in my component rack had become loose and dangerous, so while I had everything out, I wanted to re-tighten the screws holding them in place. So adding this simple home theater component ended up being a 5-6 hour job. But, everything's hooked up and working again, Tivo was clever enough to reschedule recording the Daily Show/Colbert Report episodes it had been planning to record while everything was unplugged, and I applied the firmware hack and verified that I now have a region-free DVD player. Yes, Chameleon, this does mean I should finally be able to watch that Doctor Who DVD you sent me. I'll let you know how I like it.
For my next trick: I want to work around some of the limitations in the system. Tivo only has one S-Video output, which is currently running to the TV. I'd like to split that so I can run it to both the TV and the new DVD recorder (instead of the icky composite connection it currently has). Likewise, I actually still need to hook the old DVD player up such that I can record DVDs. But these things can wait for another day. For now, I'm well pleased.