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Harman intros four new 2011 AV receivers

CNET compares the key features of Harman Kardon's new 2011 AV receivers.

Harman Kardon AVR 3650 Harman Kardon

Most of the major AV receiver manufacturers have already announced and released their new 2011 line, but Harman Kardon is playing catch-up and rolled our four new midrange AV receivers yesterday. All of the details are already available on Harman's website (including excellent owner's manuals for each model) and we've broken down the most important features throughout the line.

Harman Kardon AVR 1565

Harman Kardon AVR 1565

Key features of the Harman Kardon AVR 1565:

  • 5.1 AV receiver, 50 watts per channel
  • Three HDMI 1.4a inputs
  • 3D video pass-through and audio return channel
  • Front panel USB port (for firmware updates only)
  • Three digital audio inputs (two optical, one coaxial)
  • Basic text on-screen display
  • Logic 7 audio processing
  • $400 list price; available now

Harman Kardon AVR 1650

Harman Kardon AVR 1650

Key step-up features of the Harman Kardon AVR 1650:

  • 5.1 AV receiver, 65 watts per channel
  • Four HDMI 1.4a inputs
  • Automatic speaker calibration
  • Dolby Volume processing
  • Compatible with The Bridge IIIP iPod accessory
  • $500 list price; available now

Harman Kardon AVR 2650

Harman Kardon AVR 2650

Key step-up features of the Harman Kardon AVR 2650:

  • 7.1 AV receiver, 85 watts per channel
  • Five HDMI inputs
  • Ethernet port
  • Internet radio streaming, as well as digital music on your network
  • Graphical user interface
  • Second zone support
  • $800 list price; available now

Harman Kardon AVR 3650

Harman Kardon AVR 3650

Key step-up features of the Harman Kardon AVR 3650:

  • 7.1 AV receiver, 100 watts per channel
  • Six HDMI inputs, including one front-panel input
  • $1,000 list price; available now

Purely in terms of features, we can't say we're impressed by Harman's 2011 offerings. Not only do none of the receivers offer AirPlay (like the Denon AVR-1912 and Pioneer VSX-1021-K do), they also don't have iPhone/iPod compatible USB ports, which are offered on every competing midrange AV receiver. Instead, you'll have to shell out for Harman's The Bridge IIIP iPod dock, which is tough to swallow since these receivers already cost more that similar models from other manufacturers.

And while the AVR 2650 does add networking capability, it appears to be limited to simply internet radio. That's a far cry from say, the Onkyo TX-NR609, which has Pandora, Rhapsody, Sirius, Slacker and Mediafly. We also didn't see any mention of standby pass-through in the manual or features, which is another now-standard feature these receivers appear to be missing.

On the other hand, we've always like Harman Kardon's style and we thought the AVR 2600 was one of the best looking AV receivers of 2010. And of course these new Harman Kardon may have outstanding sound quality, but we won't know until we do a hands-on test.