A lot of people who new to hi-def and to home theater are tempted to buy so-called "Home Theater in-a-box" (HTiB) systems - inexpensive surround sound system, usually with a receiver or dvd/receiver combo and 6 speakers. These systems are compact, and promise easy set-up and low cost for those "testing the HT waters." Certainly they can look less intimidating than a receiver with more switches, dials, lights and inputs than the control panel of the space shuttle and that costs more without speakers or a DVD player than the "all in one" solution does. But a recent series of threads in this forum has shown that as soon as many users try to move beyond what is included in the HiTB, by adding a game console, or an HD DVR, for instance, they run smack up against the limits of the system they bought. HTiB systems typically cost anywhere from $300 to about $600 dollars. The most popular current versions are built around an integrated dvd player and surround sound receiver - both components in a single case. This does save needing to connect the DVD player to the receiver, but apart from that doesn't make things that much more convenient. To this is added anywhere from 3 to 6 speakers - 1 of which is a subwoofer. (Some powered, some passive.) Some 2.1 systems (like Denon's $700 MSRP offering) have sound processing circuitry to created "virtual" surround sound without the need for rear speakers. According to reviews the Denonn is an exception in pulling this off fairly well. Most HTiB systems are weakest in the sound department, mostly because they use very cheap speakers. Denon tried to get around this by using 3 good speakers and some audio wizardry instead of 6 cheaper speakers. The problem is that precisely because they are integrated systems, HTiBs tend to be deficient in inputs and outputs. Many discussed here have only one digital audio input or none at all. Many also lack an HDMI input or component inputs, thus making them useless as a/v switch devices. This is becoming an issue because more and more devices are coming on line that can deliver HD video and digital audio, and televisions have not kept up in the number of their own inputs. A/V receivers, on the other hand, have been adding all sorts of inputs that can the be translated to one or two connections to the TV. HTiB doesn't allow that. And forget about adding a second or third DVD player (Blu Ray, HD-DVD or a changer. I have two 400-disc Sony changers and a region-free single disc player on my system, along with an HD-DVR from the cable company.) One you go beyond the connections the HTiB allows, you're stuck. You can't even upgrade your DVD player or buy an A/V receiver and connect your HTiB to most of them. And the speakers either won't handle the additional power of a true A/V receiver or will sound so bad that they destroy the advantage of the upgrade. HTiBs can't be upgraded, by and large, they have to be replaced. Sure you can put 'em in a bedroom, try to sell 'em or give 'em away - but that's not what you bought them for. And if a new HT hobbyist reaches the point of needing to do that early on, how much did he really save by starting with an HTiB? I think a good start-up HT system should be built around a decent HT receiver (Denon has a non-HDMI 5.1 system with 3 component inputs and 2 digital inputs that retails for around $150) and a name-brand upconverting or at least progressive output DVD player for under $50. That's $200. Whatever your budget is you can spend the rest of it on the best set of matched speakers you can get for that price. (Check clearance sales, discontinued models and factory refurbs - these are usually just unused consumer returns anyway. Speakers don't have moving parts or complex electronics, so chances are one that was returned, even if it was repaired by having a driver replaced, is going to be a good buy.) Or save a little by going with a slightly cheaper receive and put more into the speakers. The point is you end up with a modular system that can be upgraded a piece at a time as your experience increases and funds become available, and which lets you add other devices without replacing the whole thing. Just my two cents after seeing a whole series of disappointed people who are finding their HTiBs will not let them get the most out of all their new toys. Regards, Joe P.S. One very common mistake that folks new to HT make is listening to the advice of clerks in Big Box stores like Best Buy and Circuit City - or worse, warehouses like Sam's Club and Costco. Except in Best Buy's high-end Magnolia showrooms (Magnolia was an independent dealer that BB acquired) these people get essentially no training and are prone to pulling answers out of their butts. One of them recently told an HTF member that he couldn't connect his PS2 to his HTiB with an optical audio cable because the PS2 had no digital optical outputs. I checked the PS2 user's manual on line and was able to tell the guy exactly where the opitcal output was.