Thanks for replying and thanks for the feedback. I will try to provide more information in this reply.
1. Channels: 5.1 or 7.1. At the moment, I am just planning on hooking up the Energy 5.1 home theater speaker set. I doubt I would be adding the extra two speakers for at least a couple of years. In your opinion is it worth it to have the 7.1 capability?
2. The Energy 5.1 setup I plan to purchase is a complete 5.1 set (see hyperlink below). I know nothing about recommended wattages, but based on your 100 watt rule of thumb, that would leave me at 500 watts?http://www.amazon.com/Energy-Classic.../dp/B001202C44
3. Yes, I believe it will need BOTH video and audio inputs/outputs. I plan to hook up my ps3, laptop (via hdmi), TV, Ipod/Ipad, apple TV, and maybe a CD player/radio (I have not purchased it yet). For now, my TV setup would be coaxial into the TV, then connect back to the receiver for sound.
a. Inputs needed: 4 HDMI, plus (whatever connection is used to connect sound back to the TV to the AVR?), and (whatever connection is used for a new cd/radio system to the AVR).
b. Setup would be only for one TV.
4. Zones: For now just 1 zone will be needed. In 2 years, when I move apartments, I could see wanting being able to utilize speakers in another room for music. Based on the life-span of an AVR, not sure how much that should be used factored in.
5. Onscreen Display: I have no experience with AVR's, so I have no idea how useful it is. Assuming I am a noob (but one who could read a manual...) what's your recommendation for this feature?
6. Audio setup: Since I am so new, I would prefer something that is easy to get the sound calibrated properly. If there are standard sound settings for each model (that I could find here at AVS forum) then maybe that feature is not necessary. Thoughts?
7. Crossover: I'm not that sure what it is (took a quick google hit at the term), but I am assuming no, based on the speaker set I plan to buy.
8. 3D compatibility: A nice to have, but not necessary.
Sorry, that post got long. Please let me know if you need any more information. I really appreciate people taking the time to help a noobie like me out.