I've got two cheap Matsui boxes from Currys, both working well for about a year. I had a more expensive Samsung which was a pain in the proverbial. It's on the shelf above my head as a last DESPERATE reserve if the others break down.
Possibly worth reminding that most boxes will only allow you view the channel you are recording to a VCR on.Mine (3 yrs)is Thomson and using there S/W it is easy to set up a VCR to record a prog. David
You need a dual tuner Freeview receiver or recorder to watch one and record another programme.
As for recording Freeview on a VCR, my Mitsubishi H58 is 12 years old and I occasionally use it to record a Freeview programme, using the channels originally intended for recording large satellite dish transmissions.