I've been a big fan of DirecTV for many years...hated my local Cable system. However, I've become a short term fan of TWC in Columbia for their HDTV service. Their other digital channels do not match D* in PQ which is why I've kept D*service until all of this competition works its way out in the marketplace.
To upgrade to HDTV with DirecTV, I would need to BUY an HDTV Receiver ($600-800 with DVI) plus upgrade the Dish (another $100 +/- unless you get a deal from the Customer Retention dept. at DirecTV) plus the hassle (for the average viewer) of setting up an antennae to get the local HDTV channels...this is getting pretty close to a $1,000 upfront investment to get a picture.
If you are a current Digital Tier subscriber to TWC, you are the big winners for now in the HDTV battle. There is little or no cost to upgrade to HDTV reception that includes HBO, Showtime AND local CBS, ABC (NBC and FOX in negotiations).
If on the other hand you are a D* subscriber, the additional cost for the Cable Tier + Digital Tier is a concern...about $70 more per month. It doesn't take a math major to figure out that for twelve months of this, I could have bought a D* HDTV Receiver plus a fancy antennae system. However, I'm willing to take this modest hit while waiting for the winners and losers in the Cable vs Satellite battle to be decided. Also, while I'm watching this happen over the next year, the STB's for Cable and D* will continue to improve and costs go down.
In reviewing complaints in this and other HDTV forums, it appears we are fortunate to have reasonable HDTV choices in Columbia: Satellite (Dish or D*), Over the Air with an antennae and Time Warner Cable...each has its own strengths and weaknesses depending on your personal viewing preferences, tolerance for change, physical location, and financial situation. As we watch the aggressive competition going on with these companies for the HDTV marketplace, I am hopeful that it can only benefit the viewer (fingers crossed!).