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 $100 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 the 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. There are quite a few buttons cluttering up the front panel; if you're into a more minimalist look, check out the Marantz NR1601. The HT-RC260 also has several ports on the front panel, including HDMI, minijack, and AV inputs. Onkyo's always been about value, performance, and features, so it's not surprising that the design is somewhat of an afterthought on the HT-RC260.
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.
The Onkyo HT-RC260 does include a graphic user interface, which is a slight step up from the text-based interface included on competitors like the Denon AVR-1911 and Marantz NR1601. We had no problem performing simple setup tasks like assigning inputs, and the basic onscreen diagrams during speaker setup were helpful. However, if spiffy graphics are important to you, competitors like the Yamaha RX-V667 and Pioneer VSX-1020-K are even better.
|Key AV receiver features|
|Channels||7.2||Analog video upconversion||Yes|
|Graphical user interface||Yes||Automatic speaker calibration||Yes|
The HT-RC260 is solid on its collection of key features. Though its graphical user interface is just slightly better than a text interface, it does have all the other features we like to see at this price range, including analog video upconversion and a two-year warranty.
|HDMI version||1.4a||3D pass-through||Yes|
|Audio return channel||Yes||Standby pass-through||No|
HDMI functionality isn't the HT-RC260's strong suit, although it's still a step above the Pioneer VSX-1020-K. Like the Pioneer, the HT-RC260 supports 3D pass-through, but it also supports audio return channel, which the Pioneer lacks. The Onkyo doesn't support standby pass-through, which is supported by most competitors, such as the Sony STR-DN1010, Yamaha RX-V667, Denon AVR-1911, and Marantz NR1601.
|Audio decoding features|
|Dolby TrueHD||Yes||DTS-HD Master Audio||Yes|
|Dolby ProLogic IIz||Yes|
|Other: Audyssey Dynamic Volume; Audyssey Dynamic EQ|
As is standard, the HT-RC260 includes onboard decoding for Dolby TrueHD and DST-HD Master Audio, plus decoding for Dolby ProLogic IIz. There's also support for Audyssey Dynamic Volume, which limits volume spikes, and Audyssey Dynamic EQ, which improves sound quality at low volume levels.
|HDMI inputs||6||Component video inputs||2|
|Composite video inputs||5||Max connected HD devices||7|
Video connectivity is one of the HT-RC260's strong suits. Its quantity of six HDMI inputs is outstanding, especially considering 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.