I've had the Rogers PVR unit for a week or so and have been impressed by the fact that the recorded playback is identical to the original HD
I think you have some misconceptions on how digital media files work. Of course the playback from the PVR is exactly the same as the original HD - the original HD is a bunch of 1s and 0s sent to your set top box (STB). With a PVR those 1s and 0s are saved to a file on the hard drive instead of (or in addition to) being sent out over the HDMI or component outputs of your STB. To your STB and your TV the live HD broadcast and the PVR file are identical - unless there is a problem with your hard drive.
something you won't get with the Hauppauge PVR.
That is very true but the quality of the file saved by the HD-PVR is supposed to look so close to the original that you can't really tell the device. I haven't hooked mine up yet so I don't know. I have used an analog capture from the s-video output of my cable box for years and it looks almost as good as the original digital SD cable signal.
Being that this device merely exploits the analog hole and "redigitizes" the analog signal, it's easy to think of it as little more than another expensive toy.
It is actually the only way to get cable/sat HD into an HTPC - it may be a toy but isn't much of what is discussed on this forum toys? And remember the saying, the one with the most toys when he dies wins! In my house I have an HTPC in my main theatre setup where I run Windows XP MCE which I use as a PVR. I have 5 media centre extenders throughout my house that allow me to watch any show that I record on that HTPC throughout my house. You can't do that with the cable co PVR. I can copy those TV shows to my laptop and watch them on plane trips. I can save hundreds of TV shows to an external hard drive and take them with me when we go away so that my daugher can watch all of her TV shows. I can stream the video files or live TV over the internet so that I can watch hockey games when I am on business trips to Japan. Right now I can't do any of the above with HD files, except for OTA channels and I want to be able to record HD. The only way to do that is to use the HD-PVR which is why I have bought the device.
Also, being that the device is connected to the computer by a usb cable, I am also forced to place my computer next to my tv, not the ideal setup.
That depends on how you set things up - many people now have dedicated Home Theatre PCs (HTPCs). The whole idea is to have the PC as a component in your home theater and use your PC as a PVR, DVD (including BluRay - rip all of your DVDs to your PC and have a movie jukebox!) player, game machine, music source, Divx file player, etc. Therefore you can get rid of all of these components from your Home Theatre. Alternatively, you could have a PC in a closet with a cable box and an HD-PVR that acts as a server. Then by your TV you could have a Sage HD extender (looks just like a DVD player) that allows you to play back all of your files and control everything as if you had the PC in front of you. You can put these extenders throughout your house.
When I play back the recordings on my HD tv I presume this is being sent through the USB cable as well.
No - again you are misunderstanding how video files work. The HD-PVR is simply encoding the signal coming into its component inputs into a computer video file - this device uses the H.264 file. Once that file is saved to your PCs hard drive it is just like any other video file - a DVD that you have ripped to your hard drive, a Divx or MPEG file you download from the web, or a TV show encoded using an analog TV tuner capture card such as the other devices that Hauppauge and others have been selling for years. The connection from your PC to your video card will then be via HDMI, DVI or component cables, just like a STB or DVD player, assuming you have a relatively modern video card in your PC.
This is definitely not for everyone, but if you want more than just the ability to record HD shows and play them back on the device where you recorded them from then using your PC as a PVR is an option. But it is something that requires a lot more support than your cable box.
Also I feel that eventually someone is going to come up with a better idea for capturing the HD that you see to your computer the same way as the service provider's PVR does. Personally, I think the right of the companies to deny direct HD recording from their HD boxes for private use to paying customers needs to be more fully tested in the court systems.
I really doubt that there will be any other way of capturing cable/sat HD. I wouldn't rely on the courts - the legislation such as the DMCA in the US and new similar legislation that is being introduced in Canada severly restricts our ability to capture digital media. One interpretation that I have seen is that the new Canadian law says that you can only record digital TV shows to allow you to timeshift for a few days. You cannot archive these shows to a permanent storage media and you must delete them after you watch them. You cannot give the file to your friend, etc. That is why Canadian citizens should stop the government from passing this legislation!