I'm a novice trader, and I would like some advice in choosing a direct access broker and trading platform. I'm interested, for the moment, in working with stocks (day/swing/position) in the US markets. I am technically proficient, so I'm not scared off by a powerhouse app - in fact, I want a particularly powerful and flexible app to handle technical analysis, charting, scanning, paper trading, etc... (if it has a good order entry system, all the better). I've done a good amount of reading and research, on these forums as well as elsewhere - but I'm afraid that I still don't feel like any particular broker or software platform is standing out. I understand that there's often going to be some sort of compromise, but through all the reading I've done, it seems like this field is more a matter of choosing the best of a poor group to start with. In doing my initial research, I came across Tradestation, and I liked a lot of what I saw in their software (at least on paper). In particular, the flexibility to completely customize indicators, alarms/triggers, etc... I liked the idea of an app capable of excellent charting and solid and robust automated trading. However, looking into it further, there seems to be major issues with reliability, speed/slippage, customer service, etc... This is obviously a dealbreaker. Seperate from that, there seemed to be a consensus that the software was running on past laurels, and not likely to be well developed in the future. So, that's out. I've run across other products reviewed here, such as Multicharts, TradersStudio, etc..., but I am at a loss as to identifying an app that meets high standards of quality, speed, reliability, features, flexibility, and support. If I find an app said to have good charting and analysis abilities, then it suffers from not having real time Level II support. Or an app that has good real time support, but suffers in charting or customizability. So on, and so forth. Can anyone shed some light on this area for me? Does no one produce a quality desktop trading platform that does it all, and does it well? I know the perfect app is hard to come by in any field, but there are a lot of apps out there that are high enough in quality, features, and performance to make most users relatively happy. With this arena, it seems to be more a matter of which app can people best tolerate the shortcomings of. I'm hoping the situation is simply that there's something out there that I'm missing, and not that the choices are really as bleak as they appear to be.