Now that we've laid out the ground rules, let's go shopping. I just got another flyer from a big box store in the mail (it won't be the last), and featured on the front page is the new TiVo 80-hour box.
TiVo virtually created the demand for digital video recorders, and despite other entries into the field, remains the best service. TiVo customers tend to be loyal and fanatical and not because of hype, but because of the smooth functionality and integrated options of the system.
All this makes it a logical choice for that loved one who's really into TV. Be careful, though. I'd call this a contextural gift. The TiVo DVR is not a stand-alone device. Like a VCR, your gift recipient has to connect it to your incoming video source (cable or satellite TV), and then connect it to their TV. That's not a big deal those are pretty straightforward connections. But are the cables to make those connections included? If not, they won't be able to use this on Christmas Day.
The TiVo system requires access to a phone line. The box makes daily calls (usually in the very early AM) back to TiVo to receive schedule and software updates. Two more questions: is the recipient's audio/video system near a phone jack? And if so, do they have the splitter and phone cord to make the connection?
Also, remember that TiVo is a subscription service. Without activation, the TiVo DVR is nothing more than a cool-looking paperweight. Again, not a big deal to get a subscription, but its a requirement for operation.
So this is a contextural gift because of the following:
Requires simple installation
Some location requirements
Potentially requires additional cables
And running down Ken's rules
#1) If they ask for it, get it. If they don't, don't.
#2) Tivo is a well-known brand. Accept no substitutes
#2) This is in the $200 range, so definitely affordable. Remember to factor in the subscription.