Onkyo has a reputation for delivering tons of features and high-end performance at a budget price, and in many ways the TX-NR609 fits the bill.
It's packed with six HDMI inputs (including a front-panel input), built-in networking (plus an optional Wi-Fi dongle for a very affordable $40), and more streaming music services than even the Denon AVR-1912. Even better, the current street price is around $495, which is the cheapest we've seen a midrange receiver of this caliber.
But it's missing the one feature that many buyers will care about: AirPlay. We're definitely fans of Apple's wireless music standard, so it's hard to recommend the TX-NR609 over the AirPlay-compatible Denon AVR-1912 and Pioneer VSX-1021-K if you own an iOS device (iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad).
If you don't have an iOS device, the Onkyo is our top pick in terms of features, although if you're picky about sound quality, the Denon and Pioneer sounded better to us when we compared them. Ultimately, as much as we like the Onkyo TX-NR609, it's a step behind Denon or Pioneer, but it has plenty of unique features (and a cheaper price) that will make it the best pick for some buyers.
The TX-NR609's video connectivity is flat-out awesome. Six HDMI inputs is the most we've seen in this price class (matching the Denon AVR-1912 and Yamaha RX-V671) and we love that Onkyo put one of the inputs on the front panel, for quick hookups to a laptop, digital camera, or camcorder.
Also note that you can switch among eight HD inputs (HDMI and component video) simultaneously, which is more than any other receiver we've tested this year. The TX-NR609 even has a PC input on the back. We're not sure how much use that will get these days, but it could be a bonus for those with older home theater PCs.