Don't worry I got a refund for the LG RC897T recorder. Yes I am recording standard def and have the path you suggested. The problem is copyright protection. There was a message when shows were blocked, something like "recording this material is disallowed due to CPRM". Here is a site I found about CPRM that answers some of my questions. It sounds like I need a DVD recorder that has VR mode or DVD-RAM discs.
Does your DVD recorder allow sports and HBO movies to be recorded? If so what one do you have?http://hometheater.about.com/od/homethe ... eocopy.htm
"One problem newer DVD recorders and DVD Recorder/VHS combo units have is that they are unable record programs from HBO or other premium channels, and definitely not Pay-Per-View or On-Demand programming, due to copy-protection to block recording onto DVD. This isn't the fault of the DVD recorder; it is the enforcement of copy-protection schemes required by the movie studios and other content providers, which is also backed up legal court rulings.
There is no way around this unless you use a DVD Recorder that can record on a DVD-RW disc in VR Mode or a DVD-RAM format disc that is CPRM compatible (look on the package). However, keep in mind that DVD-RW VR Mode or DVD-RAM recorded discs are not playable on most DVD players (just Panasonic and few others - refer to user manuals).
On the other hand, Cable/Satellite DVRs and TIVO do allow recordings of most content (except for pay-per-view and on-demand programming). However, since the recordings are made on a hard drive instead of a disc, they are not permanently saved (unless you have an extremely large hard drive). This is acceptable to movie studios and other content providers as further copies of the hard drive recording cannot be made."