I recently got a Yamaha HTR-6080 receiver and am very happy with it. No regrets at all.
You can find it cheaper, I got mine for about $650 by asking.
You can also substitute with the RX-V861 which is pretty much the same thing.
Also, in case you don't already know, monoprice
for your wires. The stores are a complete rip.
One of the reason he is recommending this Denon receiver is the ability to scale up non HD TV signals to look a lot like HD. I forget the term he used but said this alone doubles the cost of the receiver but will make watching regular TV on the 50" plasma more pleasurable--any one think this is true or a waste of money?
Most HDTVs have an up scaler built in, and I'd imagine that 50" Panny Plasma does a fine job on it's own. The receiver isn't really the place to worry about making your video look better. I've got mine set to pass thru and everything looks great (except the dreaded compressed regular cable channels, but throwing in another up scaler won't help that). Just make sure to get enough plug-ins for everything you own and plan to own in the near future.