Okay, I am finally going to get local channels from DirectTV. My local cable company (Comcast, BTW, whom I have had countless problems with)is also going to start offering HDTV cable boxes. These should both happen by this Spring. Two years ago, I bought a Sony KP51HW40. When receiving a 720p signal, my TV will downconvert to 480p. My question is two-fold: 1) How much picture quality improvement can I expect from a downconverted 720p signal. Probably 60% of my HDTV time will be spent with this signal since I will primarily be watching ABC and ESPN sports in HD (both of which broadcast 720p). Will the signal be closer in quality to 1080i or closer to the standard DirectTV satellite signal? Has anyone had any downconversion artifact issues? I have gone to Circuit City and other stores and seen the HD channel they show. I know some of these TVs downconvert while others either upconvert or display natively. In the store, however, it's difficult to determine the actual differences when an ESPN sample comes on because of how different I'm sure all of the TVs are set-up and I'm not sure which ones do what (neither do many of the reps). 2) Would it be better to get my service through the cable company or shell out $400+ for a DirectTV HD receiver? While I hate dealing with Comcast, it certainly seems to be the cheaper route versus springing for the DT receiver, especially since on top of the $400 plus the extra $20 or so to get the HD package if theres not much difference in PQ between the two. Part of this will be determined by how much difference I will see as a result of Part 1 (i.e. I'm not going to sink another $400 plus monthly fees if the downconverted picture will look like garbage). Any feedback would be greatly appreciated as I try to wade into the HD waters.