It sounds to me like he's using a VCR for recording TV shows to watch later.
Personally, I've used several different DVR's over time: I started with a PC based recorder that didn't have TV listings, then went to TiVo, then went back to the PC with Beyond TV and Media Center...
The best solution by far for broadcast and analog cable recording is a tuner hooked up to the PC. Media Center does a great job, and the only reason i went away from that was because I wanted an HD DVR, and nothing for the PC would do cable shows in high definition. (I tried 2 CableCard tuners, but they both failed because the cable company's SDV adapters would crash.)
That's really true, and it's annoying.
The only workable solution to watching all your favorite shows (at a time of your choosing) is to download them from somewhere. It might not be technically legal, but if you also pay for cable, it's not unethical.
Lately I've just stopped watching most TV other than a few shows that I DVR.
I've actually really gotten back in to TV this season. The last couple of years have been disappointing, but between Arrow, Tomorrow People, and Almost Human, I've been pretty excited about this year's TV season. I'm also looking forward to the last half-season of Warehouse 13.
Interestingly enough. all of those shows are available in some streaming format - even if it's not day-and-date... and I think they're all purchasable on iTunes.
I did a study a few years ago, right when iTunes started carrying major network TV shows, and figured out that it's actually cheaper to just buy the shows I watch than to pay for cable.
That... is really interesting.
It depends on the shows, of course. If you watch nothing but broadcast TV, there's no contest - you can do that for free or for $12 a month.
But cable network shows? In SD, those are $2 an episode. It's difficult to get Sci-Fi Network and BBC America (the shows with the best sci-fi) for less than $60 a month. That's $720 a year.
A TV season runs about 22 episodes these days, or $44 on iTunes or Amazon Instant (before any discounts.) So that's 16 cable-only shows I could buy outright.
And with Amazon Prime, Netflix, or Hulu Plus, that number gets skewed even more... if you are willing to wait a few months, all of the popular SyFy shows are appearing on Amazon Prime, along with Doctor Who.
I should have replied as new topic at the start, figured I would move the posts