I went with the dishbuys route too, and that worked pretty well. Ordered it late in the day on a Friday, it shipped on Monday and I had it on Tuesday. I ended up with an hr44-700, didn't check the manufacturing date. Took a little while to get it activated because apparently directv gets a little freaked out when you buy something from a third party retailer and you haven't called to do anything to your account for 7 years.
Took a bit to get the 3tb raid drive I had for it working. Part of that was just stupidity, because apparently I have a bad socket or two on a power strip, and it was plugged into one of those (obviously, it's not going to work real well without any power). I did end up having to format the drive on my pc before it recognized it and reformatted it.
Now I just need to get the remote ir codes working. I've still got an hr20 in there that I need to keep for a while because there's a bunch of stuff we still need to watch, and apparently it's on the same ir codes as the hr44 is (the hr22 that I deactivated I'd changed ir codes, apparently the 20 must have been on the defaults). It didn't look obvious to me that the codes can be changed on the 44? If not, it's just going to take that much more reprogramming for my universal remote. Been so long since I've done this process that I'm going to have to go digging for how to do it.
But man, after having been using an hr20 and an hr22 for a long time, the hr44 is just amazingly faster.