Onkyo HT-S3500 5.1 is $280 at Amazon, with good reviews as a starter system (http://www.amazon.com/Onkyo-HT-S3500...7134819&sr=1-2
+ feature-packed receiver: HDMI 3D, HDMI ARC, USB input, on-screen display
+ standard spring-clip speaker connections on receiver allow for upgrading speakers later on, if desired
+ get started w/surround sound without spending $3,000
+ don't have to research for weeks to put together a separates package (speakers, subwoofer, receiver)
+ cheap system to learn on; can be re-purposed to bedroom or handed down to friends/family should you eventually get a $3,000 system
- small satellite speakers won't generate the full frequency range, smoothness, detail, vocal clarity, soundstage, and volume that full-size speakers can - you may outgrow the HTiB speakers
- no multi-room, no network file playback, no Internet radio
Alternate: Yamaha YHT-397 5.1 is $400 at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Yamaha-YHT-397.../ref=pd_cp_e_2
I've used last year's YHT-395BL (http://www.amazon.com/Yamaha-YHT-395.../ref=pd_cp_e_0
) - same speakers/subwoofer, and basically the same receiver - easily enough to fill a 160 sq ft room with surround sound. The speakers are in the same class of serviceable but ultimately limited small satellites + 8" subwoofer set that the Onkyo has - sound quality is probably not dramatically different.
The Yamaha receiver is nicer: it has binding post speaker terminals for L/C/R, and it has automated speaker set-up w/included microphone. Also, there have been reports of overheating with Onkyo receivers recently. Otherwise, power and features are roughly equivalent.