Harman Kardon isn't like other AV receiver manufacturers. The company generally doesn't roll out new products every year, its line of receivers has a distinctive look, and its prices are generally a bit higher than the competition's. The Harman Kardon AVR 2600 may have come out in the fall of 2009, but surprisingly it's still competitive, thanks to a firmware update that makes each of its four HDMI inputs 3D-compatible. The AVR 2600 also has one of the better graphical user interfaces we've seen, and it still includes 7.1 analog inputs--a rarity these days.
Harman Kardon receivers may cost more, but they always look better, too. The AVR 2600 is no different, with a handsome two-tone look. The top half has a glossy black finish, with a bright LCD display in the center of the unit.
Video connectivity is on par with most midrange AV receivers. The AVR 2600's four HDMI inputs should be enough for most home theaters, although it's worth pointing out that the Yamaha RX-V667, Onkyo HT-RC260, and Pioneer VSX-1020-K offer more. Altogether, you can connect and switch between six HD devices on the Harman Kardon, which is slightly fewer than most receivers we've tested recently.
The remote feels oversized, even by AV receiver standards. It has a lot going for it, with its relatively uncluttered design and main buttons like volume and mute clearly separated from the rest of the remote. While the remote gives the appearance of being backlit, actually only the setup button in the lower left lights up--strange. We would have liked larger buttons for choosing inputs, but since the AVR 2600's GUI can be used to select inputs, it's not a big loss.