Conference Room Audio

Last week I noticed that one of our conference rooms had been outfitted with some new audio and video equipment. When I took a look in the rack the first thing that I noticed was a Harmon Kardon AVR and a Monster power conditoner. I couldn't imagine how anyone could justify this level of equipment for a room that won't see much use beyond an occasional powerpoint presentation and some training videos. Here's a quick list of the equipment that has been purchased from Best Buy:

Harmon Kardon AVR 3650 - $850
MK Audio surround speakers - estimated $1,000 (the set with subwoofer retails for $1,650)
Monster power conditioner - $280

The most ironic part was that the projector wasn't even HDMI capable so they couldn't even use a single cable connection.

I was a bit upset and fired an email to the person that I suspected had some involvement in the purchases and as it turns out she is now also upset that someone she trusted to make these purchases went so far over the top.

I'm not an expert on this type of audio, but I put together a list of things that they could exchange for at Best Buy for under $900 instead of the $2,400 for the same pieces of equipment.

The conference room is around 12x30 and it appears that the current plan was to have speakers at both ends. I also think that a yet-to-appear computer will be the primary source for video viewing.

My thought is that either a basic stereo receiver or inexpensive surround receiver would be more than adequate and two or four speaker could easily do the trick. Best Buy has a 5.0 surround setup from Polk for about $300 that would work great with a basic surround receiver, but I'm wondering if just going with two speakers and a stereo receiver might yield equal or better results. Should I expect any echo running for speakers in a left/right or mono mode since there won't be any true surround programming? My only thought on having four speakers would be to eliminate the need to blast the sound from one end to be heard at the other. When they do training the room can be packed.

If I knew that they wouldn't ever use a source other than the computer I'd probably recommend a power amplifier to keep it super simple, but I can't really find any stereo integrated amplifiers that are not audiophile grade stuff.

Any thoughts or suggestions?
Probably fell off the back of a truck so don't sweat the price tag
If I was stuck with this project, I could see how the choices were made. I'm OK with the MK speakers as I use then myself after auditioning several for my bedroom system.
Probably a less expensive receiver, but still one that allowed for mic calibraton to compensate for 4 speakers in that room. Marketing calls for "power conditioning" but my personal experience is $7.00 power strip without even a switch sounds better as low price alternative. I agree with Michael, don't lose any sleep over this and thank the gods you are not doing it, a very specialized field of audio. Do post back and let us know how it works out in actual practice. Mike.