To Direct HD or Not to Direct HD or go Surewest ?

Here's the situation. I want to go HD, but I don't want to lease the equipment since I won't be able to increase the drive space. I could stay@480p or go to Surewest, purchase a Series 2 TIvo and the HD version(a Series 1 won't work with Surewest's service). I could also purchase a used DTV (HD)Tivo and do without the HD channels that I won't be able to receive.
You can easily attach an external esata drive to the DirecTv HD recorders. Works like a charm. They're designed for it and it doesn't violate the lease agreement.
I have two of them after years of Tivo and like them.
How can you tell when content is recorded on the extrenal drive?
The internal drive is disabled when the external drive is used.

What drives are you using? I am about to make the exact same move you did and I'm looking at the Apricorn 1T drives $380.

I'll be getting two HR21's and I'll pick up AM21's when they become available. My wife Tivo's network stuff constantly.

Frankly, I would have gone Dish if only they would sell me a second vip722 for $200, but no. Using Directv will allow us to keep our TIVO's up for a month or so to watch what is stored.
The HR-20/21 DVR's from DirecTV will allow you to attach an external drive, say a 1T eSATA, and have most all of the space you'll need.