After about a week of research and a day of struggles, I think I've finally found a good HDTV solution. The whole thing started when I decided I wanted to get an HDTV in time for the Super Bowl. The local Fox affiliate was even accomodating me by launching a digital signal last weekend. Well, I got delayed and ended up first looking at TVs about an hour before gametime.
I tried to do some research prior to my purchase, but it was mostly fruitless. HDTV can be very confusing. First off, analog pictures look like shit on an digital TVs, at least the one I bought. Second, I had a couple people tell me that they were able to pick up HDTV signals through their normal cable service; this was not the case for me. Of course, all I have is Lifeline Basic, which is like 12 channels or something. I called Time Warner this morning about it, and they told me it would cost an extra $33 per month to add a tier that would enable me to get the local HDTV feeds. They also told me I'd get an extra 200 channel...not something I was very intersted in.
So, I went out and bought an antenna from Radio Shack. I plugged it in, scanned for channels, and 24.1, 54.1, and 66.1, all the local digital over-the-airwaves digital signals, registered. I tuned them in, and they come in great-crystal clear. (I may have actually found an advantage to living in the city-close proximity to HDTV signals!) The non-digital local guys, 12 and 35, are a little fuzzy, but I was getting a fuzzy 12 through Time Warner anyhow, plus, I'm assuming their digital signals will be as clear as their rivals as soon as they get them up, which by law has to happen in the next 12 months.
This all enables me to say, "sayonara Time Warner." I've got my HDTV, and I'm not paying you a cent. In fact, I don't even have to pay the $15 per month, I've been paying to get clear local channel reception. It seems that HDTV is giving me the opportunity to cut the cord. If this is what the government (the FCC, I assume) had in mind when it pushed the law through mandating HDTV broadcasing, God bless them. The next natural step seems to be be hooking up a PC to my digital TV, which will enable me to download or stream all non-network programming I want, on-demand.
I can see the future, and it doesn't look bright for Big Cable, at least in my house.