After not upgrading any audio for years, 3 years ago I got the whole big screen & A/V thing. I noticed lots of Denon around & wound up with a Denon A/V receiver. Has been so good I now have 4 Denon components. Yes, rooting for Denon is like rooting for the Yankees (something I've never done) as nowdays they are the big boys. It has been for good reason, for the products they put out. Usually are bulletproof.

You still have some basic & easy work to do, right here within the c/net review section. Sorry to push your budget, but c/net's top choice is the new Denon 2807 which they call the sweet spot in the Denon line, getting much trickle down quality & features from their really expensive. List is $1099, but $799 from Butterfly Photo (who I've done business with more than once.) And you don't want to hear the optional iPod dock is $129. A choice piece of equipment; substantial at 17" deep & 31 lbs.

One step down is the 2307; $799L, $638 @ hookedontronics & $700 @ digitalcraze - both of which I've bought from.

That said, I don't mean to push Denon. I don't sell anything. Due to Denon being the biggest seller in medium price audio, the smaller competitors tend to offer more easily found discounts & another bell & whistle or so. You can link & Google for them. Recently closed out models, in this case probably wouldn't offer the iPod feature.

Among places to check are Amazon.com who always has Friday specials. Onecall & Crutchfield are solid sellers, but with less frequent discounts. Always check sellers' customer feedback ratings on places like ResellerRatings.com. It's still a customer beware marketplace; don't touch bad ones with a 10 foot pole. No reason to look for high risk. I even cautioned an after the fact buyer on this forum who ordered a plasma from Plasma Bay, who has really spotty feedback on ResellerRatings. Fortunately he had no problems.

Don't neglect to start here in the c/net review section. There are many brands, etc., but I'd trust c/nets' ratings of the higher rated models. Fortunately consumer electronics items like receivers have benefitted much from ongoing technology & competition. They are generally a damn good value anymore. Don't do anything really stupid like send an unknown a money order. Use a credit card for the issuers' value as an ally for charging back the payment when you scream foul. They have helped me that way.

Don't get carried away about buying online. Check your area brick & mortar sellers as the product is right there in front of you. I always try to negotiate politely but firmly with my local independents (with info in hand as to online prices) & have the satisfaction of real personal service for a few percent over online prices.

Do it. Use c/net resources & click links to verify mfrs. specs. Then enjoy. After all, that's your goal.