I am in the same market as yourself i.e. buying a DVD Recorder. As a result I have done considerable research, the internet, forum's and by talking to people in the trade.
The result is get a DVD Recorder with a HD. These are now available with 80GB and 160GB. On the internet Forum's the general consensus by people who have purchased Recorder's without HD's.....is that they wished had!!
The three makes which have the best reports are: Sony, Toshiba and Panasonic. Of these the Sony RDRHX510S with 80GB HD receives the most praise. This is the one I will be getting.
The Shop price for these are £399.00. They can be purchased on the Net between £299 and £349. The lowest price was from Curry's at £299.
As regards your alternative suggestion i.e. CDRW's.
I think it would be very time consuming, plus risky if you wish to keep the programs on CDRW's as they detiorate quickly because they have soft layering. You may also find that they would not be compatible with a normal DVD Player used in conjunction with a TV.
Hope the above info' is of help. freaky