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The best piece of advice you can give in my opinion is to ensure he gets something with audyssey multi eq or better. The impact this technology has on the sound in *most* rooms is beyond what everything else will provide with the exception of speakers.
My recc is the Quad Lite 5.1 system with a Marantz receiver from Accessories4less.com. This combo, a brd player and wiring could be had new for under $2k with careful shopping.