They wear me down. I pay them $150 per month. And, like a fool, I expect something for that.

The reality is the service is what it is. DirecTV is never going to make it work right, never going to give me what I'm paying for. They can't. They broke it when they went Mpeg4 HD. DirecTV will never again be as good as it was.

The problem is, they set the bar too high with the Tivo-based DVR. That experience was terrific. I didn't have to call DirecTV to complain (or write a blog to vent). It just worked.

Then they switched us all to their own DVR, the HR-21 in my case. And at the same time, their overloaded satellite feeds couldn't handle the quality Mpeg2 HD bandwidth, and so the Mpeg4 streams come along, with a bunch of new hardware that is not reliable. So we end up with choppy audio, breakups, video pixelation, and on and on.

And it's not that they don't want to help us - it's that they can't. They got themselves into this mess with bad technical and strategic decisions. Even if they answer a tech. support call, it doesn't matter, the tech. can't do anything about what is really broken, which is the entire DirecTV HD service - DirecTV works fine for standard-def (other than all the hardware and software bugs in the HR-xx series DVRs), but it is fundamentally broken for HD. The tech. on the phone can't fix that, even if they wanted to (nor can they fix, or even admit to, all the software bugs in the HR-xx series DVRs).

I think I might be able to get better technical quality from Comcast, because their system now (with digital etc.) is technically superior. However, it is a cable company. I know the support (customer service) is going to be terrible. I can barely get them to return a sales call, or listen to the questions I'm asking long enough to answer them. If I'm one of the unlucky ones where something does go wrong, I can't expect Comcast to be responsive at all, anymore than I can expect a "temporary tax" to go away someday. It's not in their DNA to provide customer service.

DirecTV is supposed to have a Tivo box for HD again next year, but due to the fundamental problems with their system, and given that DirecTV will hobble the machine and not support all the features of the normal Tivo box, I'm not sure that's enough.

Basically I'm screwed either way. Cable is a gamble. It might work, but if it doesn't I'll never get help from Comcast. DirecTV may have better customer service, i.e. they might try to help me, but they can't because their system is technically broken.