I dont see all that many problems (I own Projector, 7.1 surround seperates and do HD formats) yea some have handshake issues and so fourth but I wouldnt expect to have problems. Anthem, Lexicon are great on the Higher end, Rotel, Parasound in the middle are good examples and Emotiva looks attractive for a budget solution.
I have a Marantz processor that does all the hi-def formats and it works like a charm.
I don't have a stand alone processor, but have a two year old Onkyo 805 receiver that handles HDMI and all processing chores flawlessly, including all HD audio codecs. I am using a cable box, blu-ray player and LCD display running through the Onkyo with zero HDMI issues. In regard to having to upgrade software, that is a trend that's here to stay and I don't see it as a bad thing. I like the fact that I can download a patch to fix a bug if necessary.
Anthem, Sunfire and Sherbourne: All amazing in 2 channel as well as theater.
I think we as consumers must take much of the blame for the current, in my opinion, shameful condition that manufacturers release their products to the general public.
Case in point - From day one, there were problems with hdmi cables and manufacturers are fully aware of the problems. Yet generation after generation of hdmi cables continue to be manufactured/sold with manufacturers knowing that the cables are problematic.
Some manufacturers of a/v receivers, etc. routinly release
equipment that they know does not meet/fulfill their own specs. So they issue firmware updates which in some cases can cost customers $50/100.00 to transport the unit back to the manufactrer to install the update. And manufacturers are so arrogant that a new model avr will probably need the exact same update as the previous model.
And yet, we as consumers, myself included, continue to buy this faulty equipment; and, so long as we continue to support/reward these manufacturers, they will continue to sell equipment that is not up to par.
Elevick, no Sunfire processor or reciever is capable of playing any of the HD sound formats. I've ran Sunfire processors for years and they sounded great...but when their latest processor was released without HD audio capabilities, I had to abandon ship and look elswhere for HD audio.
I recently purchased a Samsung Blu-ray player and an Integra pre/pro. Other than installing 2 firmware upgrades to the Blu-ray player (both went without a hitch), I've had no problems. And I've been very impressed with the Blu-ray player and the pre/pro.
Being a software developer and knowing that much of the functionality in AV products is provided by software, I'm not bothered by installing upgrades or patches. Of course, I expect the installation to not render the component unworkable.
The difference in complexity between an AV pre/pro and a 2-channel analog preamp is HUGE. Frankly, I'm pretty amazed that any of it works.
I think any of the major names are good bets and I would look for longer warranties to break any ties.
I have been so impressed with my Onkyo receiver and its reliability. I assume the Integra line is even better. After being frustrated with dedicated pre-pros and reset after reset, I went with the receiver using the 2 channel pre-amp with HT pass-through. I have never had to unplug, reset, reformat or mess with my Onkyo receiver.
I think it is not any one manufactuers problem. HDMI and other digital formats are being upgraded too fast to keep up with. Customers demand the lastest and greatest formats. So they can say mine is better than yours. To keep up they need to do software upgrades. These SW upgrades are not always perfect and people don't always install them correctly either. With most HiEnd systems in the past you either had to return the HT AVR or seperate for hardware upgrades or purchase new with few exeptions. That pissed people off worse than SW upgrades do now. If you have the money to buy a new AVR every month or so then you can stay current with minimum problems, people for the most part hate this avenue. Again everything now needs SW upgrading regularly to stay current. Its just a fact of life, nothing is perfect. If someone says thier system does not need upgrades then they will not be current shortly.
See the discussion 'Need advice on pre/pro - Rotel1098/Outlaw990/??' about halfway down the list of Home Theater discussions. I provided links to several reviews for the Integra 9.8/Onkyo PR-SC885 pre/pro (same unit). I just ordered it this weekend and have not yet received it, but in all of my research I have found one user who was not happy with the unit. Look into it.
Ok, thanks to all. It seems like we should be getting to the end of the amount of resolution one can get (as far as the video goes). I don't know, hopeful the upgrade thing will slow down. Of course, I'm sure folks thought we were at the outer limits of resolution when we were at 780 or whatever.
HDMI is obviously tricky and we probably need to get some sort of standard so that we do not have "handshake"/compatibility issues. Hell, I don't know! I just want to buy some stuff that will work and forget about it!
I have an Anthem AVM 50 that has hdmi but does not decode the new codecs. I use a Sony BDP S550 which decodes the lossless audio internally. It goes out via hdmi cable and sounds awesome!
The only problem is the hand shake with the hd cable box. You just have to start the the first time in the right order.
HDMI 1.3 problems seem to be either a) brand specific or b) backwards compatability. That is, if all components connected via HDMI 1.3 are the same brand, problems should be rare. Evidently there's enough wiggle room in 1.3 implementation that conflicts between brands can arise.
Also, outputting a signal via 1.3 into a 1.1 display is iffy. My Integra htr's 1.3 output will not work with my Sony 1.1 projector. However, I ran HDMI direct from the Sony blue-ray's 1.3 output into the projector's 1.1 input without a hitch.
Integra 9.8 here with Pani 30, Oppo DVD, DirecTV HDR and Apple TV sources into a Pio 50.
It is a true 1.3 system.
Zero HDMI problems since day one.
FWIW - Wireworld HDMIs and everything is plugged into a power conditioner. No ground loops, no super long runs. And no sparkles, drop outs or other artifacts.
The most annoying thing about the system is the Pio constantly switching to 4:3 and putting up grey borders which has nothing to do with HDMI and everything to do with the Pio.
BTW - stand by for 1440 - the display manufacturers aren't done yet - the question is whether the studios will keep up.