Well, I did finally end up with the 1022-k. But what a saga:
Best Buy had the VSX 42 on sale for 250$ on BF. I think it is basically the Elite version of this one. I said, hey, awesome, better warranty and a couple other features (I might never use). So I drive an hour and get it. Set it up. Have it for all of 2 days. Buddy sends me a text:
"Hey my dad just passed his Denon onto me. Do you want my (onkyo) NR609 for free?" (this dude is like my brother, he wouldn't even take my money, and his dad LOVES new tech so this is not THAT unusual) I really didn't want to return the VSX (the driving! AGAIN!), but this was money back in my pocket I could spend on something else, plus a "better" receiver.
So I return it the next morning. Best Buy was great about it. I set up the Onkyo that day, love it. Say to the wife, hey since I have this money and that was supposed to be my Xmas present....how about I get some speakers? So I hit Neweggs sale, and picked up a CS1 center ($80) and Monitor 60 Series 2 floorstanding speakers (100$ each). HUGE upgrade over my speakers from an Onkyo HTIB. Got my mother in law to kick in for the PSW 10 for 80$ (!). Kicks all sorts of butt compared to the speaker setup I had.
Then I am watching Sherlock Holmes 2 a week ago....and the picture and sound drop out. I look at the screen, and it reads "Check SP Wire". Uh-oh, went through this with my LAST Onkyo. Open the cabinet, I smell burning. Oh jeez. I unplug it all, let it sit an hour. Re-try. No go. Tried that for the next few days. Nada. The f'er is fried and from what I read, it is most likely the HDMI board, which is RAMPANT with this series/brand apparently. Same thing happened to me last time, though I am NOT sure it was the HDMI that time. Oi.
My buddy does not have the receipt...nor did he ever register it. Oh man. Dude. Come on. Reading how Onkyo deals with people who DO follow all the Ps and Qs lately, I figure I am boned. Hemmed and hawed for a week or two and decided, dammit, I cannot stare at these speakers being useless anymore. Saw the Newegg deal for 240$ on Sunday, said heck with it, i am doing it. Purchased their one year no hassle warranty deal (which normally I would never do) because my buddys Onkyo was the second AVR to die on me for no apparent reason. Only other 7.1 receiver in this price range was another Onkyo, RC-360 I think. NO THANKS!
The receiver itself:
So I only have had it set up for two days now, but so far I am liking it. It DOES FEEL budget in many regards (not being able to re-label or assign inputs DOES bug me, I'll get over it) and the video upconvert does NOT upconvert 480i over HDMI consistently (this was big for me as I run old videogames like TG-16, NES, etc, they even mention in the manual it may have hard time with older videogames) but I had an old 40 foot composite for that on my old receiver (which had NO upconvert) and all my cables are easily hidden so I can live with that. It gives the TV a pure signal off of my AV switch anyway that way (no processing/stretching), but yeah, now I have to press two buttons (one on TV, one on receiver) as opposed to one to get to my games. Oh well. And it doesn't seem to remember sound settings by input (like I want to leave SAT/CBL on Stereo, and VIDEO on Auto, but I seem to have to switch the sound mode back and forth as I switch inputs...(am I wrong here other owners?)
Most important part to me though, especially reading the CNET review...I think it sounds great. Keep in mind I am a movie guy, not a music or streaming radio guy. In fact, I'll likely never use any of those features. But first thing I did (after the MCACC setup, which did a good job to my ears) was watch the damn Sherlock movie I was watching when the Onkyo crapped the bed. The sound was very nice and the surrounds (a criticism in the CNET review) were well integrated and certainly part of the sound. Watched Die Hard blu last night. I don't know where this receiver volume "number" maxes out but 53-55 was all I could take without rattling the walls and blasting my eardrums. Plenty of power indeed as a few of you told me earlier in the thread, and I put my hand over the top at the end of Sherlock...warm, but not hot at all. Also, I noticed no video degradation, which also seems to be a criticism of this unit. HDMI switching is fairly fast, though doing it by the knob is not my favorite. Yeah, I could use the remote, but I tend to leave that remote in the cabinet once the Volume is mapped to my DTV remote.
So there's drawbacks for sure, but for a movie fan wanting good 7.1 sound, for 250$? I consider this thing a very very good receiver. Assignable inputs and a more consistent HDMI upconvert would have pushed it to "Great" (for the price, always keeping in mind the price) for me.
Now we get down to the nitty gritty as I really get to toy with it.