Buying new DSS system: HDTV or just AC-3.....worth the ??

HI all -video question...
i'm switching to DirecTV and need to buy a new receiver and dish. currently i only have an analog TV. My options are:

1. just buy a dish and AC-3 receiver (about $200 installed) and keep my TV (hitachi ultravision 53"), or...

2. buy an HD receiver and dish (about $599+149+99=$850) plus upgrade my TV to HD ready (about a $2-3k upgrade after sale of current TV), for total of about $2.5-3.5k.

QUESTION: Is spending that much extra $$ worth going to HD at this point, or am i better off waiting, spending the $200 now to get AC-3 and then upgrade the TV and receiver at a later date??

Spend the $200 now and wait on HDTV. There is very little being broadcast in HDTV over DirectTV. Dishnet has more and has even dedicated a third satelite to HDTV, but the amount of material is still pretty dismal. Even some of the movies that are so called HDTV are just upconverted and I find that their image quality is less than playback on my DVD player. (While resolution is increased color saturation and contrast are decreased--also the HDTV signal is only a pass through on my Faroudja DVP2200.) If you are happy with your Hitachi I would wait for more program material.
I agree with abstract7, the HDTV offerings on Directtv are few. However, I would go ahead and install an 18 x 24 oval dish so you won't have to change it later if you decide to go the HDTV route.
done. i'm buying the $200 receiver tonight with the 18x24 dish. ill keep the hitachi for now. think it's worth it to upgrade the tv anyway to at least have a digital signal?

No. You have chosen the right course. In my experience so far with a digital TV, is that there are lots of digital artifacts in the DSS signals, and NTSC does not look that great. Awesome with DVD and very good with PPV or better Directv channels, but most network and some of the Directv not all that good.