If you need the power, you might consider getting a pre/pro with a hefty external amp. There are decent 200w x 5 amps out there.
I'd consider an Arcam AVR-300. If you don't need the 6th and 7th channels, they can be bridged to bi-amp the front channels, giving 200 watts to the fronts and 100 to the other three. This is how I've arranged my system.
The AVR-300 gores about $1800-1990 new and a few hundred less used, so this would leave room in your budget for speaker cable retermination, if needed.
Such an arrangement might be WAF/space friendly, which is why I chose it over a two-box separates solution.
Just a thought...
Dawg, are you going to be running sources into the AVR-300 (if that's what you wound up getting?) I ask because many newer plasmas have plenty of inputs for video (HDMI, component, S-video, composite, etc.) and you don't always have to run video sources through your receiver.
It's almost always better to run those sources through your television, if possible, to skip the unneeded stage of having a receiver process those signals. The one exception I've found is that running my VCR through the Arcam enhances the picture significantly (by upgrading it from composite video to near-component video).
Apologies if I've run off on the wrong track here...just trying to gauge all the relevant issues.
Bt "latest technology to be compatable with the TV", do you mean it must have HDMI switching?
HDMI swithcing is not necessary, but is a convenience and can offer multiple HDMI inputs if you have multiple HDMI compatable devices. However, in general only current generation AVRs will hve it, so you will pay a premium.
Otherwise, I can't think of any reason why you would have to have the latest technology. You might want to consider a high end unit that is a generation old as it would save you hundred or even thousands of dollars vs some of the latest offerings.
Agree with Rubeunt. You might want to consider a higher end 2 channel pre & amp with HT pass through and stick with your AV rcvr for now. IMO a great display and decent audio is more than acceptable for HT, where critical listening is usually not a factor. I get great satisfaction from my Fujitsu HD plasma with a Yammie AVR and NHT super zeros for HT, while my 2 channel rig is much more exotic. They are not integrated because I really cant get the video display in same room as the 2 channel due to room layout issues. But if I could, I would still go the same route, with the exception that the front speakers would do double duty.
Guys, I'm a somewhat talented person - however audio setup is not one of my strong suites. To avoid the mega stress associated possible screw-ups, I usually pay to have someone do it for me. I don't know how they have it hooked up right now.
I just want the new AVR to kick arse. I'll check out the Outlaw models.