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Sony unveils 2011 midrange AV receiver line

Sony has announced its new 2011 midrange AV receiver line, adding iPod connectivity to most models and Ethernet connectivity to the step-up STR-DN1020.

Sony STR-DN1020
Sony STR-DN1020 Sony

Sony announced its new 2011 line of midrange AV receivers this morning, adding lots of new iPhone/iPod connectivity features throughout the line. The $500 STR-DN1020 is also getting support (via an Ethernet port) for Sony's new streaming audio platform HomeShare, which we were impressed with back at CES 2011. There are a lot of changes from last year's models, and here are the key details announced so far.

Sony STR-DH520

Sony STR-DH520
Sony STR-DH520 Sony

Key features of the Sony STR-DH520:

Sony STR-DH720

Sony STR-DH720
Sony STR-DH720 Sony

Key step-up features of the Sony STR-DH720:

  • 7.1 AV receiver, 105 watts per channel
  • Analog video upconversion (Faroudja DCDi Edge)
  • iPhone/iPod video and music playback via USB
  • Graphical user interface
  • $300 list price; available in March

Sony STR-DH820

Sony STR-DH820
Sony STR-DH820 Sony

Key step-up features of the Sony STR-DH820:

  • 7.1 AV receiver, 110 watts per channel
  • Advanced graphical user interface
  • Second zone audio and video
  • Three component video inputs
  • $400 list price, available in March

Sony STR-DN1020

Sony STR-DN1020
Sony STR-DN1020 Sony

Key step-up features of the Sony STR-DN1020:

  • Ethernet port
  • Compatible with Sony HomeShare products
  • DLNA compliant
  • Slacker and vTuner streaming audio support
  • Can be controlled by iPhone/iPod Touch/Android smartphone
  • Dual subwoofer pre-outs
  • $500 list price; available in May

One of the biggest improvements on these Sony models over last year's lineup is the USB iPod connectivity, allowing you to simply connect an iPod/iPhone via the USB port to play back music and videos, rather than having to buy a pricey iPod dock accessory. We're also interested to see how well the iPhone/iPod remote control app works, as we've had mixed experiences with similar apps in the past.

The added Ethernet connectivity to the STR-DN1020 is definitely a compelling upgrade, especially with HomeShare and DLNA compatibility. However, it's worth pointing out that Onkyo also released networked AV receivers this year at a lower cost, and those models also offer the ability to add a Wi-Fi (via a USB dongle) for a surprisingly reasonable $40. Also, as much as we like HomeShare, it's still not quite as enticing as AirPlay, and we're still holding out hope that we'll see a midrange AV receiver with AirPlay built-in this year.

Overall, there's a lot to like about Sony's updated AV receiver line, and we're looking forward to taking a listen to see if the company has improved on the lackluster sound quality we heard on last year's STR-DN1010.