This guide exists to show other people how to buy a system - either cheap or expensive depending on your budget - to record the London 2012 Olympics (or other major live events in the future) in the most flexible and cost-efficient way.
When researching how to do this, I fairly quickly ruled out the initial idea of buying one or more hard disk recorders. The reasons are numerous - they work out much more expensive than using a PC media centre solution and most hard disk recorders are both buggy and also not flexible enough to do anything not dictated by the manufacturer.
The number of power outlets, cables and remote controls really don't scale well and electricity usage would be high and nearly impossible to sensibly protect (e.g. many 6-way surge protectors or UPSes as the number of recorders increased). I will say that Humax looked like a good Freeview HD and Freesat HD solution in the UK if you don't want to go the PC media centre route though.
Although I had several computers around the house, using an existing one for heavy-duty Olympics recording wasn't a good idea in my case either. They are all over a year old in various states of heavy use, I completely shut them down when not using them and I'm regularly rebooting them (to switch between OSes) when using them.
Hence, this guide will concentrate on just two solutions:
1. The cheapest possible recording system. This will cost less than an equivalent Humax hard disk recorder and will be gradually documented in forthcoming weeks so that you can prepare an equivalent setup well in time for the July festivities.
2. The most expensive possible recording system. The exact details of this will be revealed just before the Olympics start, but it will cost 10 times the cheapest system, which will be outside the budget of 99.9% of folks reading this. The reason for the delayed info release is that I want to be the first person in the UK to implement this and have it fully documented on the Web - it requires 2 months of setup time, it's that massive.
And, yes, I will be setting up a mix of both solutions in two rooms of my house before you ask. Now go and read the Pre-purchase page and start your journey to Olymprecs perfection!