Onkyo just announced a refreshed home theater receiver line-up as well as updates to their well-regarded home theater-in-a-box systems. The top two receiver models, the TX-NR616 and the TX-NR515 add a number of new features including InstaPreview and Mobile High Definition Link (MHL) support. For connectivity, both models add two additional HDMI inputs for a total of eight as well as two HDMI outputs (that opens up some interesting possibilites on the calibration front). When switching HDMI inputs, InstaPreview lets you see thumbnail previews of what’s playing on each source. MHL is a new connectivity standard that lets you connect mobile devices to TVs or receivers but it also charges the device at the same time.
I reviewed a number of receivers last year and the Onkyo TX-NR609 was my favorite of the bunch. The NR616 doesn’t appear to lose any of the key features of the NR609 including its Marvell QDEO 4K video processing, Audyssey 2EQ room calibration, audio return channel support (ARC), HDMI pass-through, Dolby TrueHD, Digital Plus and DTS Master Audio support, lots of audio streaming services and THX certification. However, the NR616 has lost one set of component inputs and the 609′s VGA port for connecting a HTPC. See the pictures below for some other subtle differences. The NR616 and all of the other new models add support for the MP3tunes cloud music locker. The new NR616 will be available in April at a suggested retail price of $699 while the others will be available in March. If you don’t need the NR616′s new features such as the second HDMI output, it’s probably a good time to go out and snag a 609 which has dropped to $399 (link on right). So far, I’ve been very happy with the NR609. Last night, the whole family was rocking out to thanks to the 609′s Pandora client.