There is a direct channel entry menu item used with the scroll wheel. You can see a picture of this here:[Link: photos.groups.yahoo.com]
I'm not sure if you have to join the group to view this or not. You might let me know if that works for you without joining.
Navigating Cable Box menus can be done and I am doing them now. I'm not sure if this is automatic, done through a GUI just yet or needs to be done in the xml as I have done mine in xml a while ago. Perhaps someone else here can clarify the current state of that feature.
And, as to Recording Timers - I don't know. I haven't seen anything for that yet but I would guess its on the want list for new features. I rarely use this feature and haven't paid close attention to it.