So is the question more aligned with the TIVO service itself and its interface with D* rather than the format of HD??
Please, please pardon me for my ignorance on this?
I think the question right now for most people is dropping $500 or more on hardware that will be obsolete at an indeterminent point in the future, and it is unknown what the upgrade cost will be.
The question of MPEG-2 vs MPEG-4 format is not directly related to what to purchase. Neither codec in itself will mean better or worse picture quality. MPEG-4 allows better compression, so requires a lower bitrate to achieve the same PQ as MPEG-2. This is why D* is converting to MPEG-4. It is indirectly related to your purchase decision in that the HR10-250 only decodes MPEG-2, so eventually it will need to be replaced when D* has fully converted to MPEG-4 and turns off the MPEG-2 stream. But who knows when that will be, and D* has announced in their 1Q conf call that they will be taking an expense for hardware swapouts.
We do know that the new D* DVRs will not be running TiVo software, so if that is where your loyalty lies, then your choice is to wait for TiVo to release its standalone CableCard HD DVR, which I don't know if it is even announced officially yet. Or if you have Comcast cable you can wait for them to ship a TiVo box, but this agreement was just announced, so who knows how long that will be.
If you aren't tied to TiVo software, your choices are:
1. wait until D* releases and MPEG-4 HD DVR, which is unknown, but probably sometime in 2006. Either stick to SD, watch HD live OTA, or switch to cable or Dish in the interim.
2. buy the HR10-250 now, and bank on getting a free upgrade when you need it, or at least an upgrade cheap enough to be worth having an HD DVR for the next 6 to 12 months or longer.
My opinion is that the concensus is that D* takes reasonably good care of their customers, and has swapped hardware out when needed in the past, so the swapout cost is very likely to be very low. Also, the new hardware has been announced, but not delivered, and delivery dates are often much farther out than when they were initially announced.