The Yamaha RX-V671 covers the core functionality of an AV receiver well: it sounds great and has plenty of connectivity. Its six HDMI inputs will be enough for nearly every home theater, and one of those inputs is on the front panel, which is great for making a quick connection to a laptop or digital camera.
Yamaha is also the only manufacturer that offers a colorful and responsive user interface, although the RX-V671's interface would still be considered archaic on any other home theater device.
Its main failing is the lack of AirPlay support, which we think is the one AV receiver streaming feature worth paying for. If you don't care about AirPlay (or would rather add that functionality by purchasing an Apple TV), the Yamaha RX-V671 is one of the best choices available, sounding better than the competing Onkyo TX-NR609, although the Yamaha does cost almost $100 more.
Gadgets like cell phones and laptops keep getting smaller, but with few exceptions, AV receivers are still bulky black boxes. Aesthetically, the RX-V671 looks pretty much like any other AV receiver, with the exception of its divided front panel: top-half glossy finish, bottom-half matte finish. Altogether, we'd rate the Yamaha's looks as average, with the Denon AVR-1912's more contoured chassis being our favorite of 2011 so far.
If the RX-V671's looks are just average, Yamaha did make the savvy design choice of putting an HDMI input on the front panel. That makes it easy to connect a laptop, digital camcorder, or camera without having to reach around the back of the receiver. The otherwise excellent Denon AVR-1912 and Pioneer VSX-1021-K have HDMI inputs only on the back panel.
The RX-V671's user interface is considerably different from all its competitors. It's much more visually oriented, from its colorful background to its icon-based menu system. Compared with the utilitarian interfaces included with competitors, the RX-V671 is at least trying to pretty up the AV receiver experience, even if it still lags considerably behind other types of home theater components, like Blu-ray players, game consoles, and streaming-video boxes.
When accessing streaming-music services, such as Pandora, you'll get cover art and track information on the screen. It's one of the better-looking media playback screens on a receiver, but again, it looks archaic compared with the Pandora interface on, say, a Blu-ray player.
Like every other midrange receiver this year, the RX-V671 can also be controlled by Yamaha's AVControl iPhone app. It's a decent app for basic functions, like choosing inputs and adjusting the volume. It also displays cover art and track information for streaming-music services such as Pandora.
Strictly by the numbers, Yamaha's video connectivity is excellent. Six HDMI inputs is the most that's available at this price, and the RX-V671 is one of the only midrange models (along with the Onkyo TX-NR609) that includes a front-panel input. Two component video inputs is standard, and its five composite video inputs are plenty.