With hulu shutting down its free service, I once again wanted to look for a cheap dvr. The well known names (TIVO) want to sell you a scheduling service which drives the price far out of my budget. Surely there was something out there that would just act like a VCR but record to a hard drive? Turns out, yes, but it was hiding under "converter box." There are a few different choices. $30 got me this. It take a USB flash or hard drive and will take an antenna signal (but not cable, but since I'm a cord cutter, that's fine.) I spent a bit more on getting it a dedicated flash drive. Interestingly enough it has a program guide for the next 24 hours, but you can also just set it like a VCR. It's a bit klunky both in the UI design and in the responsiveness of the remote, but the record quality seems decent and the price point is right where I need it.
It turns out that our pressing need for it has gone away, so I likely won't testing it as hard as I was hoping, but I'm very glad to have finally found an affordable solution and thought I would share it incase other cord cutters had been looking as well.