Home Theater help?

My husband and I are not at all knowledgeable about any of the new(or old) technology in Home Theater systems and/or Flat panel television, but are looking to purchase new equipment for our home. The consultant at our local electronics store is a Magnolia Home Theater rep and is suggesting the following: Pioneer Elite 1080p 50" plasma with a Denon AV receiver w/HDMI and in wall speakers, as well as a Pana Max power conditioner. This system is very costly and sounds like more then we might need with technology that is not yet available? If anyone has any feedback it would be greatly appreciated. Thank You!
Without information that is more specific than that provided, the gear that your are talking about is nice, but would not be considered expensive comparative to what is available.

As with any purchase, determine your budget and then shop around. Audiogon and videogon.com are both good places to ask questions about various components and also a good place to find deals on used equipment.

You also need to answer such question as: Are we going to use the system to enjoy music as well as TV and movies? What type of system is sized correctly for the space that we have?

If you intend to enjoy sound as well as moving pictures, the careful consideration should be given to the DVD and CD player, amplification, loudspeakers, and even the interconnect and speaker cabling. The wrong choice in any of these areas can lessen the value of the the good choices that you make.
You might also want to make sure that in wall speakers are what you really want, they dont show up in the room and that is great, but do you want the best performance your budget can acheive, or do you want invisible speakers,
I agree that what they are suggesting is not at all on the expensive side, a bit of research will show almost instantly how costly equipment can get.
Do a lot more homework!
Find friends with HT.
If this is expensive to you, then you will feel stuck
with it once installed.
Also, in-walls are fairly permanent since they are cutting custom holes. Don't do it unless you are sure that is what you need. Some in-walls are great, most sound muddy and lost unless installed properly and in the right environment. You are usually losing some sound qualities to get the "hidden" speakers.
Denon is one of the best all around receiver manufacturers.
Pioneer tv's are really nice-however, you can get very close quality for much less $$$. Look at panasonic. Don't buy a name you've never heard of.
You didn't mention dvd player. Go with Denon for quality, ease of use with the receiver and consistency.
A line conditioner is a must to help save the gear and improve quality. Panamax or similar is great.
Final note: HDMI can be awesome if you have a digital source. The biggest drawback is cable costs. Check out someone like the cable company or bestcables to save about 75% on cables. Monster will kill your budget and isn't so great.
I've done the HT thing in 6.1 channel and I did my homework. But if I could start over I would build a 2 or 2 .1 channel system. It's way more cost effective, better for music and my wife the movie watcher prefers 2 channel stereo when watching TV and movies.

I'd go with one of the higher-end Denon receiver (3800 series) and a Denon CD, SACD, DVD player that links to it for surround SACD sound. I think 5.1 is the way to go, expecialy for movies and certain TV shows (CSI Miami is especially appealing in HDTV and 5.1, as well as many of the series on HBO and Showtime). I agree that, while a Pioneer Elite is nice, a Panasonic is more cost effective and nearly as nice. Try to match the speakers across the front. Get a good sub for the LFE in movies and TV, and as a LF supplement for music. Monitors, i.e. smaller than floor standing speakers, should be fine if the sub is good. I'd be disinclined to tie myself to inwall speakers. Monitors can be fit unintrusively into your design.

Also the Oppo player at less then $200 tested better for picture then any other player ever, if music is not going to be a huge concern then the Oppo is a no brainer.
The Pioneer 1080P 50" is a very nice display, but if money is a major concern then dropping to a Pioneer 5070HD 50" 720P plasma might be a good option. I am using the Pioneer 5060HD 50" plasma and the picture is very nice. The Emotiva separates are a steal. Speakers are a little tough to recommend. I use in-walls for the looks, but free standing sound better. I also agree with the Oppo DVD player or get the Toshiba HD dvd player.
For these people, I think they're going to do fine with finding a display that looks nice to them, and fits their budget. Then they can look at a receiver in that budget (Denon is fine, and you all know that), and some inwalls that sound descent in that price range, if that fits their lifestyle! Yes, better sound from same priced boxed speakers, but it's a tradeoff. I'd be willing to bet they'd be more than happy with the inwall solution, and some "multEQ" processeing on a Denon 2807, er whatever. So, they're not being steared in the wrong direction, IMO.
The only thing I'd qualify is if they wanted a smaller budget plasma/lcd, and maybe wether they could live with "exposed" speakers, or "on-walls", etc.

After doing a little reaserch I found what I was looking for. Both BlueRay and HD DVD players output native 1080p. So one of the first questions I have is are you going to go with the new video format now or in the future. If so then I would go with a 1080p monitor. I would seriously give Panasonic a look along with the Pioneer.

Ok question 2 how important is the sound quality. If you answer it is, then stay away from in-wall speakers. Another thing to think about is are you planning to move in the future another reason to stay away from in-wall speakers.

Question 3 what is your budget. Sit down with your husband and say this is what we can realistically spend on a home theater.

Question 4 what room will this go into. Is it designated for that purpose or is it a multi-purpose room. What are the room dimensions. How will the system be set up on the long wall or the short wall.

Question 5 not to be personal but do you have little kids. They have a tendancy to like to play with buttons and speaker drivers. This may not be of a concern. Electronics can always be put in a cabinet behind glass. Speakers you can always leave the grills on. If you are putting this in a designated room you can always lock the door.

You have received some good advice in the above posts. One thing in common is most of us have more questions than answers.

You can always email me and I will try and answer as many questions as I can.
I'm real surprised that no one recommends a 1080p LCD TV instead of a plasma. I don't think that I would by a TV that did not have the 1080P resolution. Compare the LCD monitors with things like: "image burn in," glare from a glass cover, buzzing, weight, panel life, energy consumption, reliability and for that matter picture quality. The systems that I install all over the country are generally designed around the following components.
Sharp or Samsung LCD tvs (Sharp is coming out with a 52" LCD TV with 1080p at a very reasonable price), Harman Kardon surround sound receiver (450.00 & up), Harman Kardon universal DVD (plays SACD and DVD audio discs @ 399.00) Harman Kardon (5) disc CD carousel (if needed @ 249.00) Canton Speakers from Germany in either in-wall or free standing (@ 1500 & up). Certainly free standing speakers sound the best per dollar spent. AC power center from Monster Cable (350.00). Unifying remote from Home Theater Master (Osiris @ 150.00) Cables from a reputable company (I use Ultralink out of Canada). This results in a high performing system that is straight forward, easy to use and reliable. Just another opinion.
Good luck!
At 60in and under 1080p is not worth the high cost and its benefit is small unless you sit 3 feet from the monitor you wont see any diffrence over 720p, just because on paper it appears better doesnt mean you will see it, or that you should waste your money.
I disagree. I find a noticeably better picture in the 1080p tvs, particularly the Sonys, all the way down to 40".
My recommendation of 1080p tvs came from regularly selling and installing both types (720p & 1080p)and comparing them directly. This includes monitors from 37" & up. The difference is quite visible to my customers who own both and to myself. Sharp has a 52" flat panel LCD with 1080p resolution @ 4500 retail. It seems to me that saving a few bucks on inferior products is where the real waste of money occurs. But, I must commend Lel for even thinking of posting a forum on AudiogoN and trying to learn about finding the best value. They are already ahead of the game and a more knowlegable consumer than most.
If the original poster had cost concerns and also was worried about overkill I think that saving money on a non-1080p monitor makes perfect sense.
"It seems to me that saving a few bucks on inferior products is where the real waste of money occurs" (Cine100)

I wouldn't call 720p tv's "inferior!", nor would I refer to them as "a real waste of money"! Infact, if you read the reviews out there, I think the pro's comment that standard def, DVD's, and 720P sports broadcasts look better on 720p monitors, or at least as good, except on 720p broadcasts usually. Where the 1080P looks better (more critical and noticable on larger displays, or up-close), is usually 1080 broadcasts! This is what my impression is anyway.
I think to say 720p displays are a waste and "inferior" (I think that's what was being implied), is off base! My two cents...
Again, my recommendation of 1080 monitors is not based on reviews but rather real world experience. Every customer of mine that has lived with both types of tvs, wants to only own the 1080 tvs because the picture quality is so much better on HDTV broadcasts (not DVDs). This originally came to light when they didn't realize that the better looking tv had 1080p or what 1080p even was. My comment about wasting money was mainly about the earlier suggestion that Lel buy a cheaper plasma. The bottom line is that I always strive to help clients maximize performance for whatever there budget may happen to be. I was the one suggesting a larger tv with better quality (in my opinion) for less money than the original plasma recommendation.
Here's some insight on the whole 720p vs. 1080p thingy

Check out the Yamaha 2700. I just installed one in place of an Anthem AVM-20 ver2.x If your thinking 'step-down' think again. I won't comment on its amplifier section yet as I'm not using that - only because I haven't had time to put my Citation's into 'bridged mode' and power the surrounds with the Yammie. However, I had time to watch LOST last night in Straight Dolby Digital and I was amazed. I've never gotten this much before from a mix off the Satilite. I heard stuff I didn't know was available before.

Do yourself a favor and take a hard look at this Yammie unit. You can connect it into your PC network and use your PC as a music server through the Yammie. XM radio fan or enjoy IPods? No problem, dedicated hooks up for both including processing to de-compress MP3's etc. So much flexibility. HDMI, up-conversion for everything. My HD really did improve and I needed a few less cables too. I never used my old system for video switching.

Frankly I can't believe I've come full circle back to a receiver. It's yet to be seen how much of the amp section I use but it will probably only be the Surrounds. I may try out the 'presence' channels some day too. But for now I LIKE IT!!!!!!!

You didn't ask BUT make sure your system includes a really good universal controller for everything. I'd highly recommend the AREOS 850 from www.universalremote.com. Very very powerfull and flexible. It took all of a minute to change out the anthem to the Yammie and then the software did everything else throughout the macros automatically! I couldn't believe it. We only use one remote and my remote-challanged better half has no problem operating it. Very simple.

Also, don't put the gear on a shelf under the screen unless its high enough to see your gear easily. Mine is under my rear pro inside a custom cabinet but it stinks! I'd have to sit on the floor to use any of the panel controls. My cabinets height is 24", ideal for my particular t.v. but if I knew what I know now, all the gear would be in a closet inside a pull out rack on a turnatble so when I wanted to make an equipment change I could without being a putz on hands and knees.