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/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 the Denon or Pioneer, but it has plenty of unique features (and a cheaper price) that will make it the best pick for some buyers.
Also check out our updated 2011 AV receiver spreadsheet comparing all the receivers we've reviewed in 2011. We'll continue to update it with more receivers soon.