Each of the midrange receivers we've tested this year has shined in one specific area, and the Onkyo HT-RC260's overwhelming strength is value. It comes in at more than a hundred dollars less than its competitors and still manages to offer six HDMI inputs, which is enough to cover virtually every home theater.
On the downside, the HT-RC260 features a traditional bulky Onkyo design, and its graphical user interface doesn't live up to the eye candy of the Yamaha RX-V667 or Pioneer VSX-1020-K. We were also surprised that the HT-RC260's sound quality wasn't quite up to the level we generally associate with Onkyo, although that might be because of sacrifices to hit the rock-bottom price.
The bottom line is that if you're on a tight budget and want to maximize your HDMI connectivity, the Onkyo HT-RC260 is an easy pick. If you've got other priorities--like sound quality or iPod connectivity--there are better options for your home theater dollar.
If you've seen one Onkyo receiver, you've pretty much seen them all. The company hasn't changed the exterior look of its receivers in years, favoring a big, boxy approach that makes no attempt to be sleek or slim. It features a matte-black finish, with a strip of glossy black plastic that runs through the center, where the LCD display is.
Video connectivity is one of the HT-RC260's strong suits. Its quantity of six HDMI inputs is outstanding, especially considering that its price is several hundred dollars less than other receivers with six HDMI inputs. Analog video is also nicely covered, and as mentioned before, analog video signals can be upconverted over the HDMI output. Using all of the input "labels," the HT-RC260 can switch among seven HD inputs.
The HT-RC260 features Audyssey's 2EQ automatic calibration system that confirms that all of your speakers' wiring polarity is correct, adjusts each speaker and the subwoofer's volume level and time delay/distance settings, and determines the speaker "sizes" and the speakers/subwoofer crossover settings. Audyssey 2EQ also applies equalization corrections to the speakers in an attempt to improve their sound.
Onkyo AV receiver remotes continue to be among our favorites. The HT-RC260's clicker has a simple design, with a central direction pad and a clearly marked volume rocker above it. There are buttons for switching inputs and just a few more controls, which is fine by us; a remote cluttered with options gets confusing in a hurry. Even though the included remote is one of the better ones, it's worth considering a universal remote if you have a component-based home theater.