Media centre software is the way to go
I used to believe that dedicated set-top boxes (or built-in recording facilities on recent TVs) were the way to go, but when you look at it, they're quite limited:
* Firmware is often buggy and eventually abandoned not long after a newer model comes out.
* If you don't like the firmware (e.g. the UI is annoying or missing important features), then you're stuffed - there's no way to change it usually.
* If you're on the Freeview HD platform, then good luck trying to export HD recordings unencrypted. Ludicrously, the Freeview HD specs don't allow you to do that (even though Freeview HD channels are actually broadcast unencrypted), yet they do allow SD recordings to be exported unencrypted. 100% inconsistent, IMHO.
* A fair chunk of recorders don't bother allowing you to record multiple channels (e.g. 3 or 4) from the same multiplex/transponder simultaneously - it doesn't help that none of them seem to come with SSDs either to alleviate access times when recording multiple programmes.
* Very few recorders come with a Web interface to mirror what they do on the TV's UI (i.e. a full Web EPG, recordings list etc) - the ability to set recordings, stream them to another machine etc. without turning the TV on is a very useful feature.
Once I realised the above issues, it was a no-brainer for the Olympics to set up media centre software with sat+terrestrial TV tuner cards, SSDs, large hard drives and I got an extremely flexible setup that could do far more than any set-top box currently does (yes, including a full desktop with browser etc. using a wireless keytboard and mouse). For the record, it was Ubuntu+XBMC+tvheadend that did the trick for me - no-cost for the software too! I think tvheadend's backend Web interface is nothing short of super impressive - I doubt any other media centre Web interface comes close (most media centre software seems to think Web access is a minor feature: I think it's massively important myself).