The Panasonic has everything you will need except speakers and dvd player.
A slight clarification...the Panasonic has six channels of amplification, but the LFE (subwoofer) channel is not one of them. It has center channels both front and back. It does output a subwoofer line level signal which requires an external amp. This makes good sense, as there are so many self-powered subwoofers in circulation these days.
The digital Pannys are great when using digital inputs. If you're using digital input then the player is just a transport. At $6-700 you are paying for some nice DACs that you will never run sound thru. Get a dvd noted for quality picture and no chroma bug and add the remaining $3-500 to your speaker budget.
A dumb question from a home theatre dummy: Can this Panasonic be configured to do 3.1 channel? I don't have room for rear speakers (really, I don't) but could do a center and an LFE. I know that most of the HT receivers down-mix to two channels, but what about 3.1? Or am I better off sticking with just two channels?
Also, I know that Dolby has a new thing that I thnink is called Dolby Virtual Speaker, which will simulate the surround experience in a stereo configuration. Is this worthwhile for what I am trying to do?
I paid $340 and I think it's a great bargain. It replaced the well regarded
Rotel 1050 receiver (a former TAS cover story). I'm still using the stock power cord and I've read and been told that it greatly limits the product's performance. I use it in a bedroom system with an Apple G5 connected via Toslink feeding it uncompressed digital music files. The system is setup for background listening and I don't really have a feel for it's absolute performance envelop. All I can really say is that's it's at least as good as the $800 Rotel.