Pre/Pro vs. Denon AVR-4311CI under $2,000

The time has come to “update” my surround-sound preamp/processor. I want to get the most up-to-date unit having the latest codec’s, Audyssey EQ, HDMI 1.4, etc. The unit will NOT be used for music listening – only for watching movies. Amplification is not an issue either, as I currently have individual amps for every channel. I’ve read about the Denon 4311CI receiver having all the current “bells & whistles”, and the internal amplifiers can be shut off to run as a pre/pro only to eliminate feedback. I would prefer purchasing a separate surround-sound preamp/processor (instead of a receiver), but at a street price of $1,500 (MSRP $2,000), is there anything else out there that competes favorably with the Denon?
Denon, for sure
In my experience (a/v retail since 1997), Denon's are a bit complicated to operate and the sound is a bit too polite for some people. However, they are very well thought out, reliable, they switch HDMI without glitches (unlike many non-japanese receivers) and they come with a spectacular surround decoder.

A NAD piece would give you a more dynamic and full sound but at the expense of a few (necessary?) features and they have reliability issues. The only serious competition I see to a AVR-4311Ci is a Yamaha RX-A2000 (or 3000). Go check them out, it's the only way to choose!
Onkyo PR-SC5508 is loaded with options and the latest home theater features you are looking for at the 2,000 price.
Firmware updates a bonus for the ever changing theater market, easy to operate and a nice remote.
check out the marantz av7005
I am also curious about this comparison of Denon 4311CI vs Onkyo PR-SC5508. Does anyone know which has a better preamp section? I may be adding a separate power amp later.

Is there any word on an HDMI 1.4 update of the Denon 4810CI?
The new Denon has the ability to turn off the amp section if solely being used as a Pre-Amp which reduced the heat in the unit prolonging it's life.
After comparing the sonic virtues of five different brands of audio / video receivers their sonic differences were noticeable but still too marginal considering the application. All the linear solid state models became congested and noticeably fatiguing when pushed past a certain point. If you have any interest in music video your going to push it, so having separate amplifiers is wise. Keep in mind it's expensive to produce a high quality multi channel preamplifier yet, IMO, most modern receivers do a good job.

In your case the brand of DAC's and room correction along with the other features, cost, and most importantly compatibility with the other components may become your deciding factor.