Advise needed

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I have a 55" Mitsubishi HD with Cox cable HD DVR and a LiteOn 5104 DVD
burner ( I know its crap but I have it ) and a Sony VCR.

I want to put in surround sound.

Need advise on surround sound receivers. Know virtually nothing. Is
there a difference between an A/V receiver and a surround sound receiver?

I don't need high power .. in fact Da Boss will be yelling at me to turn
it down cause she has " sensitive " ears :)

I only need a 5.1 system. Don't really have a big enough space to need
side speakers, just front and back and the woofer.

What happens if you have a receiver capable of 7.1 or 6.1 and only hook
up 5 speakers and leave some connections unused. Is any harm done
because it's unbalanced or anything?

What features in a receiver should I look for? See I don't even know
what they can do or should do :)

Does any of them have level sound? You know ... where it keeps the
volume the same when the loud commercials come on and raises it when
they whisper?

Do any have caller id to put the info on the tv screen? I miss that in
my old Dish Network DVR.

What is a good name in speakers? Anyone heard of Orb? I found a web site
for those and they look good but pricey.

Is there a brand that is considered the leader in the field of receivers
or speakers?

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