After some research and purchases on eBay, I now have one of all the major RD-XS hard disk equipped DVD recorders.
The flirtation with replacing VHS tape based recoders with DVD optical disc based recorders had problems. The optical media usually consisted of a choice between cheap write once media or more expensive read/write media. As with tape based recordings commericals and other material was recorded at the same time, however where tapes could be recorded in 2 to 8 hours per cassette, the degree of quality that suffered when recording non-standard low bit rates on optical disc was much worse. So it became even [more] desirable to perform some type of editing before burning the recording to disc.
Enter the hard disk drive familar from personal computers. Some DVD recorders included an 80 GB to 500 GB hard disk drive, which was nominally used as the default for capturing the off air broadcast. Various electronic program guides or timer based recordings could be used to automatically select programs or series of programs from a season of one or more shows and store them on the hard drive. From the hard drive one could then watch the programs and recycle the hard disk space without burning to optical disc or  out commericals and beginning and ending titles to save space and use the saved space for more episodes or to keep the bit rate higher for a better quality recording to disc.
This was the TiVO concept evolved from a DVD recorder into something like a Personal Video recorder without a normal monthly or yearly subscription to the program guide made popular by the TiVO business model.
At the turn of the Video era when NTSC analog signals were stopped and replaced by ATSC over the air, the requirement for a new ATSC tuner drove the price of the combined HDD/DVD recorder so high that many companies exited the market.
Until that time however there were a few companies that offered increasingly better and better off air recordings to hard disk drive that also digitized or encoded the analog content into MPEG file format.
Among these were the Toshiba branded "RD" for "RD Life" series of "XS" HDD/DVD recorders.
warning: These recorders are very dependent on their Remote Controls for buttons, the front of the consoles do Not have a complete set of control buttons. These recorders are not usable without their original OEM remotes, programmable and universal remotes are inadequate as replacements due to the complex documentation that refers to the OEM remotes.. it is not possible for a user to perform the complex mental translations necessary to use a universal or programmable remote with the OEM documentation in any reasonable fashion. Do not try it. Further each model has a Unique OEM remote model.. they are not usually compatible between generations or step-up models. If matching a second hand OEM remote to a model without its original OEM remote be very careful to note the OEM remote model.. they absolutely must match.
Simply.. do not buy a Toshiba RD-XS without its "original" OEM remote.. and make sure it is included as part of the terms of sale.. or return it.. its not worth the trouble.
It is [Very] common to find the remote [Not] included as a term of sale, or substituted with a generic.. or the terms will say "as..is" and "no returns accepted".. the remotes sell for quite a bit more seperately from the recorders by themselves and are often prized [above] the actual recorders themselves because the recorders are useless without them.
Basically Toshiba made many many different models for the Japan and outside the US and North American markets, only a few were brought to the Canadian and US markets and not necessarily the same models.
They arrived in three waves:
The second digit representing the "generation" of the recorder.
The first digit repesenting the "feature" level of the recorder.. also called a "Step-Up" level.
Within each generation the same DVD burner was used, all used an ATAPI packet based command language to burn discs.
The 50's included "progressive upscaling HDMI output" for playback only.
The XS-32 and XS-52 were known to have a problem with their handling of the IRE set-up or "Black-Level" definition in the US markets resulting in DVD discs burning on those recorders looking correct when played back only on those recorders but appearing washed out or black level elevated to "grey level" and "white-level" blown-out resulting in a loss of contrast or dynamic range.
While this could be corrected in software, the loss of dynamic range could not without preconditioning on the input signal to the recorder.. a device to effect this change was never manufacturered.. and a software fix accepting the inevitable loss of dynamic range in exchange for a normal playback of discs on all recorders was never made available. Only DVD burner drive firmware updates were ever made available to consumers via their website or later only by firmware discs only available from the manufacturer through the mail.. after the firmware was removed from the website.
Several "revisions" of the motherboard and motherboard firmware for the XS-32 and XS-52 were observed in the "wild" by consumers, but no means of deploying "updated" motherboard firmware was ever found.. the newer firmware judging by the firmware versions between motherboard "revisions" was "as-is" from the factory and considered immutable.
These were considered quite advanced "workstations" approaching the flexibility one could have mastering or authoring disc creation on a personal computer with specialized software and world wide had a great reputation.
While external proc-amps could be used in the US to attempt to correct the input capture problem with Black Levels.. quite a bit of tweaking was necessary since it also involved stretching the video signal over the dynamic range while avoiding clipping of blacks and whites and compensating the loss of chroma gain and skewing in the tint.. at best it was a complicated bargain.
The XS-34 and XS-54 would see firmware updates "specifically" to compensate for the Black Level problems in the previous generation in the US and Canada and while having a lackluster physical case appearance are considered the most desirable by collectors. They had very durable Panasonic style DVD burners with long life when serviced to remove dirt and grime on a regular basis and were on the whole quite economical. In some ways they were considered the apex of the product line. However the UK version XS-34SB and the European XS-34SG (were Not) capable of NTSC capture.
This was quite different from Panasonic and Pioneer recorders which could decode and capture NTSC signals in their UK/European world models. The XS-34 UK and European models often appear somewhat similar to the XS-34 US model but are (Not) desirable in the US or Canadian markets even if the tuner is of no issue.
In particular the UK model does not appear to have SCART connectors on the back and can be mistaken for a US model.. since the XS-34 (US model) can be quiet rare and hard to find it is a common mistake to acquire an XS-34SB or even an XS-34SG model (that does have SCART connectors on the back) thinking it "might" record NTSC signals.. it will not.. and further it cannot output an NTSC playback signal either.
The XS-35 and XS-55 were the last of the Toshiba HDD/DVD recorders imported into the United States and the XS-55 was not imported into the Canadian market. While better in appearance they were still somewhat lackluster. They did contain many features that would never appear in any other HDD/DVD recorder. The XS-55 would continue to support "Net Dubbing" even between it and the previous version in which networked on a LAN they could copy recordings between the machines without first burning to disc.