You don't mention room size and that's fairly important. In a small room I think the Take 5.1 setup works well (I have one). In a larger room it's not up to the task.
I used a Pioneer VSX919 for two years before it crapped out; my previous Pioneer avr had been good for much longer. Not to knock Pioneer particularly, but many avr's don't have the longevity they once had; the additional processing and demand for ever lower prices takes a toll in heat and whether it's even worth hanging on to an avr for more than a few years. I'd also look at Onkyo for some good value, and at refurbs, check out accessories4less.com. Personally I'd get a lower end avr and up my speaker budget, you'll get more bang for your buck that way in some respects. Your budget is just on the very low side overall, though.
"I realize that somebody playing free music isn't as commercial as a hamburger stand. But is it because you can eat a hamburger and hold it in your hand and you can't do that with music? Is it too free to control?" - Don Van Vliet (aka Captain Beefheart) discussing commercial success in the music biz