Is the Meridian 568 still good in 2005

I am just getting into home theater and am looking for a good processor. I have read a lot of good things about the Meridian 568mkII. Can anybody give advice on the Meridian or good alternatives. I want to stay in the under $2000 range.

YES, the meridian line are fantastic. I've owned the 561 and 568.1 and they are both fabulous. Meridian is the best processor for 2 channel and very capable for HT. Best of all, the 568 is current as it uses software upgrades from the internet. You won't go wrong. Some good deals can be had as the new G series is out replacing the 500 series. However, it seems most of us are trying to buy up the 568's.

Meridian stuff; even the old and lowly 565 7.1 is more pre than most will be taking advantage of.---That is if the talk is only about just the sound quality. --Hook great amps and great speakers and there you are. Most all the pre/pros seem to be more about bells and such; as to 'why' their high prices.
I have been usung my 568.1 since Feb 2000. It still sounds fantastic, and has all the functionality you will need for 90% of all pre/pro applications (DD,DTS,ProLogic decoding, along with pre-amp).

The only question I would have, and this applies to all current (new) gear purchases as well, is how will they handle DD-HD and DTS-HD? Is new hardware required or is it just a SW upgrade? But "xxx-HD" is a problem for 2006.
While you guys are here... I have no interest in surround sound processing. But I do use a Meridian 518 as a digital preamp and use no analogue preamp at all. I have tried several analogue preamps in the system and all fail to add any value. Meridian seem to do digital volume control extremely well. But they are also probably improving all the time.

So to my question. The 518 is a bit long in the tooth and of course reqires me to have a separate DAC. Are any of these Meridian Processors you are talking about the equivalent of the 518 plus a decent DAC, all in one box? I only need/want two channels, but it seems like that is not a problem. Or in your opinion are they compromised compared with a 518 and a separate DAC? Or is there no such Meridian?
The 568 is an all digital box. It does have a DAC and a digital volume control. Not sure if the 861 has an analog volume control or not.
Is the 568 DAC section competitive for two channel audio? What might it compete with? For example would it compete with a Meridian 563 or a 566, or is it an improvement on those? Big questions, I know, but any insights are appreciated.
I thinks the 568 is a step up from both. For sure the 563 and likely the 566 for 2 channel.
Sounds like a useful thing to get then. Thanks all!