individual pieces. Yes, I know Bose has some convenient but pricey sets. A lot of us here say you can do better by doing a bit of work.
Todays receivers are very capable & excellent values. C/net reviews for entry level receivers show better rated ones most can afford at $200-$250.
Don't buy combos with DVD player a part of a receiver or TV because DVD players are only made to last around 5 years. Make one piece disposable rather than tossing the receiver too.
Entry level Oppo brand, sold directly to customers, is rated both excellent performer & excellent value. Factory refurbs start at about $160 up to about $229 if you need upconverting to full 1080p. I am of the opinion that 1080 is mostly an unnoticable costly upgrade over the fine 720 sets. On line real time gamers or those who want to see high def DVDs will need it though.
HTIBs are generally not state of the art, so most don't have the best connectivity options. If one insists on nothing more than an HTIB the Onkyo brand ones are the most frequently recommended ones.
I do advocate that makers specializing in speakers generally make ones superior than packaged afterthoughts by component makers. They need not cost a lot but the expectation of getting not more than what you pay for does apply. I'd rather see folks delay to buy once & buy right rather than something you will want to replace in year or so.
Speaker brands to look for include JBL, Klipsch, Polk, Infinity, Boston Acoustics & Paradigm. Speakers that you will be glad to have forever start at around $150 each. Don't be afraid to look beyond the usual big box stores - to independents. They have already survived the coming of the big boxes. More consistent knowledge there & most are happy to sell to a few hundred dollar customers as well as bigger ones.
A few other brands to look for to audition include Energy, Epos, PSB, & Monitor Audio. Direct sales companies highly regarded are Aperion & Axiom.
I would like to see some first good speaker customers get the NHT Three set of two to start with. It was Editor's Choice of fancy schmancy Stereophile magazine. It was introduced at $800. Street price is $600. My local dealer has a fast deal now at $525.
A $200 receiver & that for $525 would exceed any HTIB I know of. I'd be willing to bet a few bucks on it. A little knowledge to learn is a bother, yes, but worthwhile.
Other great sounding speakers include Paradigm Atom @$199, PSB Alpha B @$249, Epos ELS3 @$329, Usher S520 @$375, & Monitor Audio Bronze B2 @$399. Any of those are much finer sound than Bose or HTIBs.
We love to have people consider a budget over a thousand to $1500. Sort of a worthwhile entry level price for many options of lasting value.