Originally Posted by txmatt
Here's another AVS subforum that will be helpful...http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/forumdisplay.php?f=25
Some good info so far. If you're getting/already have the 500M, you're obviously going for quality over quantity. As such, I'd recommend OTA HDTV. If you can pick up your local signal, OTA is arguably the best uncompressed signals you're likely to get. In my experience, anything you're going to get from basic or expanded basic cable (the most affordable packages) is likely to be SD. The HD channels are often a step-up package and I think these may require a cable box to unscramble.
We're part of the very small percentage of folks that does OTA only with no cable/satellite subscription. We've got an HD Tivo for OTA reception and have a 500M on the way. If I didn't already have a tuner/DVR solution, and wasn't willing to pay for a cable/sat box and subscription, I'd pass on the 500M. I'd be willing to sacrifice a little video quality with a Panny or Sammy plasma in return for a lower price (especially once you add a stand, external tuner, etc to the 500M) and integrated ATSC/QAM tuner.
OTA HD is fine, but you're limited to the networks -- NBC, ABC, Fox, CBS, WB's current incarnation, PBS, etc. No ESPN, Discovery, HBO, TLC, Food Network, TBS, TNT, Science...and the list goes on.
Also, generally cable companies are not yet lowering the quality of the OTA HD channels that they redistribute so they should look just as good as they do OTA (not that they will necessarily look good -- many of the networks looks like crap due to useless subchannels hogging bandwidth).