A while ago we found ourselves craving theAV receiver, which is extremely good but costs a merry old £10,000. If you need to eat, pay a mortgage and dress your children, however, the good news is Denon has a 'budget' version called the AVC-A1HD, and it will only cost you a piffling £3,800.
What does the AVC-A1HD offer that could possibly persuade anyone to part with an amount of money that could quite happily purchase a sturdy second-hand car? Well, it's a THX Ultra 2 certified decoder of all things HD soundtrack related. It can crank out 7.1 channels of high-end sound and can make sense of Dolby TrueHD,and every other surround-sound format you could name. If you want a proper home cinema, you'll need a system like this.
Denon promises an easy-to-use interface to guide you through the setup process. We're happy to hear it too, because we're truly sick of having to ponce about in menu systems that look as though they were designed on a Commodore 64.
You'll also find Wi-Fi and Ethernet network connectivity, so you can stream music from a PC or Mac. Happily, you can also listen to highly compressed Internet radio streams on your new £3,800 AV receiver. That'll definitely get the most out of your vast investment. There's also the new ubiquitous iPod dock for fans of the holy device.
Denon also claims that it's as good at upscaling VHS as it is DVD, which we'd love to see it try -- in our humble opinion, VHS is simply beyond rescue. Of course, Denon doesn't promise DVD quality from your VHS library, but if you have a collection of tapes, and even more unlikely, a VHS player, then it might help to improve the quality slightly. For the geeky among us, it uses the REALTA sxT2 HQV processing system to perform its upscaling magic.
Once you've found the money to buy the AVC-A1HD, you'll also need to buy a new shelf, because this thing weighs an especially lardy 29kg. That Ikea furniture you hastily screwed together last Sunday before lunch is going to need some serious reinforcement. -Ian Morris