4) in my current setup I use HDMI from directv receiver to tv and a optical audio cable from the directv receiver to a home theater receiver for receiving audio into the home theater receiver. Without a optical output on the Genie can the optical coax or component cables be used to deliver audio to the home theater receiver? Which would be best, digital or component for delivering audio?
If your AV amp has HDMI in/out you don't need a separate audio cable, but yeah, the HR44 has an optical out jack. They must have had a big "oops" at the board room meeting after the HR34 was released without one.