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Pioneer's new 2010 AV receivers: 3D for all

Pioneer has announced its new line of 2010 AV receivers, with all of them featuring 3D-compatibility, all the way down to the $230 price level.

Pioneer VSX-1020-K
Pioneer VSX-1020-K Pioneer

Last year, Pioneer's VSX-1019AH-K was our top midrange AV receiver pick, offering more features for the same price as its competitors, and still serving up solid sound quality. Pioneer has announced its new 2010 lineup for AV receivers, and our first impression is that the company looks like it has a good shot at maintaining its edge in the "features war." Here's a quick rundown of the announced models.

Key features of the Pioneer VSX-520-K:

Key step-up features of the Pioneer VSX-820-K:

  • 4 HDMI 1.4 inputs
  • iPhone/iPod compatibility via USB, using included cable
  • Basic onscreen display (text-only)
  • Automatic speaker calibration
  • Sirius-ready
  • $300 | Available in April

Key step-up features of the Pioneer VSX-920-K:

  • 7.1 AV receiver, 110 watts per channel
  • Analog video upconversion
  • Full color graphical user interface
  • Anchor Bay video processing (ABT1015)
  • Two channel PQLS
  • $400 | Available in April

Key step-up features of the Pioneer VSX-1020-K:

  • 6 HDMI 1.4 inputs
  • Controllable with Pioneer's new iControl iPhone app
  • Onscreen album art for iPhone/iPod
  • Powered second zone functionality
  • Internet radio, using Ethernet port
  • Improved automatic speaker calibration (Advanced MCACC)
  • $550 | Available in April

Key step-up features of the Pioneer VSX-1120-K:

  • Marvell Qdeo video processing
  • PC control
  • Multichannel PQLS
  • RS-232 port
  • $750 | Available in April

That's a lot of information, but two models in particular really standout as sweet spots: the VSX-820-K and VSX-1020-K.

The VSX-820-K offers up all the basic functionality most people need for only $300, including 3D compatibility; Sony's cheapest 3D-compatible AV receiver costs $500. Yes, the VSX-820-K lacks analog upconversion, but realistically, how many home theaters still use analog video sources? The Nintendo Wii is the exception, but we think most people would rather save the money on their receiver and make a separate connection to their TV.

The VSX-1020-K is more expensive than last year's VSX-1019AH-K, but Pioneer has added significant functionality. Six HDMI inputs should cover all but the most complicated home theaters and the addition of an Ethernet jack, internet radio functionality and iPhone control are features that were only available on much more expensive receivers last year. On the other hand, we weren't overly impressed by the initial descriptions of the iPhone app we've heard; much of the functionality is based on tilting the remote to make adjustments, which sounds a little gimmicky. We're looking forward to getting our hands on these new models and testing out the new functionality.