The Sherwood Newcastle R-972 will deliver HDMI 1.3 connectivity, six HDMI inputs, lossless audio decoding (Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio), and a graphic onscreen user interface when it's released in August for $1,500. (Note that the back panel image shows four HDMI inputs, but Sherwood has pledged that the shipping model will include six.) The product becomes the first officially announced receiver we've seen that incorporates all of those bleeding-edge features. Its step-down model, the R-872, offers similar HDMI and lossless decoding capabilities with "only" four HDMI inputs and a text-only onscreen interface, for $500 less.
If our Best of CES nominations weren't long closed, the R-972 would've been an easy pick for a home audio nod. That said, it's a fair bet that--by the August release date--we'll see similarly equipped models from the likes of Denon, Yamaha, and Onkyo (to name a few) being announced as well. In the meantime--if it lives up to its daunting spec sheet--the R-972 certainly looks to stand head and shoulders above any current model on the market.