|Are you saying that you already have a USB device?|
If so there are many live linux cd/dvd's that may work with it.
If not then might also look at the haupage (spelling) versions of TV/ AV input usb devices. About $60 and up.
Problems seem to be more of the version that each copies at. Some use Divx and mpeg1,2 and so on to include "codecs" that you may need to buy or download.
Some DVD recorders can copy in a format that your computer can read with a free reader (VLC video lan client)
Not much more than the usb device and you can record tv shows.
"Best Practices", Event viewer, host file, perfmon, antivirus, anti-spyware, Live CD's, backups, are in my top 10