is the most popular audio gadget of the decade, which is why it's incredibly frustrating that it's not easier to use it with your AV receiver. Either you're stuck using a patch cable and getting up from the couch to make playback changes, or you have to shell out for a pricey proprietary iPod dock
, destined to be useless as soon as Apple releases new models.
That's why we were so excited when we saw the Pioneer VSX-1019AH-K
(and its step-down cousins) at CES 2009; just plug your
iPod into the front panel USB port using the included iPod cable and you can navigate your music using your TV screen. That's a unique feature in this price range and the VSX-1019AH-K also has a full suite of standard features, such as four HDMI
inputs, 1080p analog upconversion, and multiroom functionality. Even better, we were blown away by the sound quality of the VSX-1019AH-K for a $500 receiver, despite our initial worries that it weighs significantly less than last year's VSX-1018AH-K
At this point, the VSX-1019AH-K is the clear frontrunner for our Editors' Choice award in the midrange AV receiver category, but we're holding off on making the designation until we've reviewed the latest models from Sony
. That being said, with the street price of the VSX-1019AH-K creeping as low as $400 online, it's hard to imagine that there will be a better AV receiver value in 2009.