Last year, Onkyo pretty much dominated the budget AV receiver market with the TX-SR605, which offered up cutting-edge features like onboard high-resolution audio decoding at a bargain price--and it earned our Editors' Choice award. Today Onkyo has announced its successor, the TX-SR606, which adds some significant features, such as four total HDMI inputs and 1080i upscaling. Here are the details:
The Onkyo TX-SR606
Key features of the Onkyo TX-SR606:
7.1 channels, 90 watts per channel
Four HDMI 1.3 inputs
Onboard decoding for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio
1080i upconversion for analog signals
New "music optimizer" software that claims to improve the sound quality of MP3 sources
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Available in April with a list price of $580
There's a lot to like about the TX-SR606, but we're tempering our enthusiasm, at least for now. For starters, there's the price: The $580 list price actually translates to a more affordable $500 street price (at least according to Circuit City, where the product is already listed for preorder). But last year's TX-SR605 is still widely available for around $400. Secondly, the playing field has leveled quite a bit from 2007. Sony's upcoming STR-DG920 has a list price of $600, has four HDMI inputs, upscales to 1080p, and will feature an icon-driven menu system, probably similar to what we've seen on the STR-DA5300ES. Lastly, in most cases, analog video upconversion past simple 480p (480i deinterlacing) just isn't that important to us in an AV receiver, since most quality HDTVs already do a solid job converting 480p signals to the set's native resolution (see this column for more info). And we've seen enough issues with AV receiver video processing that we're at least a little skeptical that it will do a better job than your existing HDTV.
That doesn't mean the TX-SR606 won't be a good option--it's definitely the best price-to-performance model in Onkyo's line, as the step-down TX-SR576 doesn't offer any kind of analog upconversion at its $480 price point. As always, though, we're reserving judgment until we get to do a thorough hands-on evaluation of the TX-SR606. Onkyo's PR agency has indicated that we'll be getting a review sample in "two to three weeks," so--if they stick to that schedule--look for a full review of the TX-SR606 by CNET sometime in May.