Every year AV receiver manufacturers tend to add one marquee feature to their product lines, and this year it looks like it's MHL.
Yamaha's new 2013 line of AV receivers consists of four networked models, plus the entry-level RX-V375, with the biggest change being that the four higher-end models each includes oneHDMI input. The RX-V775WA and RX-V675 have their MHL port on the front -- convenient for connecting a compatible smartphone -- and the RX-V575 and RX-V475 have their MHL port on the back, which is better for connecting a out of sight.
The rest of the features are similar to what full comparison on Yamaha's site, but this is how I'd break down the important step-up features:. You can look at the
RX-V375 ($300): 5.1 channels, four HDMI inputs
RX-V475 ($450) step-ups: five HDMI inputs, MHL, Ethernet, AirPlay
RX-V575 ($550) step-up: 7.2 channels
RX-V675 ($650) step-ups: six HDMI inputs, GUI, powered second zone
RX-V775WA ($850) step-ups: Dual HDMI outputs, 7.1 pre-outs, included Wi-Fi dongle
Yamaha's press release also mentions that "high-speed HDMI switching" is available on all of these models, which sounds like welcome improvement given how slow even newer AV receivers switch inputs.
The RX-V475 strikes me as the best value of the bunch, as the other step-up features don't seem worth the extra cash. All of the models from the RX-V475 up are also compatible Yamaha's add-ons for Wi-Fi ($100) and Bluetooth ($70) functionality.
But requiring pricey dongles for what I'd consider basic features feels out of step with the way many people listen to music these days, especially for a $450+ product. Last year'swas a refreshing step in the right direction, as the only receiver in its price range with built-in AirPlay, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. I expected manufacturers to follow suit in 2013 on what should be standard features (Bluetooth and Wi-Fi), but Yamaha's 2013 line still relies on expensive, kludgy add-ons. I'd bet Yamaha won't be alone in that direction, but that speaks more to the ossified AV receiver market than anything else.
The RX-V375 will be released in February, followed by the RX-V475, RX-V575, and RX-V675 in March, and the RX-V775WA in April. I expect additional companies to announce their 2013 AV receiver lineups in the coming weeks.