The 1612 has over the 1613: a couple of extra analogue inputs, an S-Video / iPOD dock input, and it decodes DD EX and DTS ES.
The 1613 has over the 1612: an ethernet port, DLNA certification, and some Apple-related and streaming features.
Otherwise, they're pretty much the same. You can't go wrong with either one. If you get a good deal on a 1612, snag one; otherwise, get a 1613.
As for speaker wire, 14- or 16-ga. wire from your local hardware store - or from Monoprice.com - is all you need.
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