I read most of this thread, and since I found out some useful information, I feel obliged to contribute my own experience, as it might be useful to someone else. I'll probably cross-post this on Amazon.
-Mirage left, right, center, sub in living room
-Mirage stereo in Zone 2 in several rooms
-Samsung 42" HD, HDMI
-Apple TV (first gen) HDMI
-Toshiba DVD (ancient, circa 2000) component/coaxial
-Apple: iPad, Mac OS desktops and laptops
-Trendnet TEW-640MB ethernet to wireless access point
-Play music through Airplay for hours at a time to Zone 2. Generally from desktop, but also through iPad.
-watch occasional movie on Apple TV, or DVD
Playing music via Airplay and Zone2 are the main reasons I selected this model, the iPad remote control was one of the factors that gave this favor over the comparable Denon. I don't consider the iPad app as just cool factor; Zone2 volume control without having to walk back and forth across the entire apartment is useful.
Yes, as many have already said, setting this up takes some effort. Setting up the physical speaker wires and setting the mode to Zone2 was relatively straight-forward, as my configuration matched one of the pre-sets. Getting the Airplay to function in a usable fashion takes even more than the basic set-up. It can be frustrating, to the point that I considered returning the unit several times (and still might do so) and either try the Denon, or wait until there are more mature products.
Main tips in regards to Airplay - make sure your network, if there's wi-fi involved, is solid. You can't blame the Pioneer for network drop-outs. ChicagoSteve's 5/15 post is exhaustive in this regard, if you live in a city, there is a lot of interference. It's annoying that AVRs with Airplay (the Denon also) don't have built-in wifi. Airplay from the desktop seems to stream to the receiver at 110-150KB p/s.
Set the Network Standby to on - this feature allows the iPad app or Airplay to wake-up the Pioneer.
Give the Pioneer a static IP - this requires some know-how. You need to set the static IP in the Pioneer's settings, and on your router side, fix the IP per the Pioneer's MAC address. Otherwise, with a new IP each time it turns on, I found myself going to the network information screen and having to retype it into the iPad app.
There's something called HMG (Home Media Gallery), it's confusing, as this is the input where Airplay operates through. You can rename this using the iPad app to "Airplay" so when it's selected it says Airplay. If you have the TV on, you'll see it starts a 'server' (rather than merely switching inputs). It seems this server sometimes crashes and a few times have had to reboot the receiver, as switching to DVD and back wasn't enough to revive Airplay. At least once HMG has crashed, then upon restarting the receiver and HMG, it still was not on the network. For the more advanced users, you can open a terminal and ping the device on your network, once you know the static IP. So in this case the HMG screen was on the TV, but the pings were returning nothing. The iPad app shows an error, it can not find the MAC address of the device. I checked the ethernet access point with a laptop and it was operating fine. The fix I found in this case, is to open the network settings and save a new IP address, switch back to your old IP address, turn off the device, this seems to really restart the network function. In the manual there is something about holding the power button down for 10 seconds, which might do the same thing, but it mentioned losing settings.
If you use Apple desktop/laptops, look into something called Airfoil, which allows you to use non-iTunes apps with Airplay. (You can play music from videos in your web browser, or from streaming audio apps like Pandora or Rdio). The Pioneer treats it the same as regular Airplay stream.
-Random crashes of HMG server, which removes receiver from network, requiring going to the receiver to revive (either by switching to other inputs and back, or more difficult restart as detailed above).
-Airplay from desktop (next to the wireless router) works quite well
-Airplay from iPad/roving laptops is less good, mainly because of wifi
-Control from the iPad app is OK, though the above mentioned crashes lead it back to the configuration step. I've seen the error dialog box far too many times (can't find product on network). Sometimes the iPad app will show one of the zones as turned on and set to a specific volume, when in fact it's turned off (it gets out of sync if you turn off the receiver manually, or if it auto shuts off), so you have to switch it on/off to get control back.
-I've watched a few movies on Apple TV, works as should.
-BUG: There's an auto-shut off feature, with separate times for main and Zone2 (eg. 60 minutes for main, up to 3 hours for Zone2). This sounds good, I want to save power. While playing Airplay music, if I have it set for 30 minutes on Zone2, it will turn off while playing music after 30 minutes (or 1hr, etc). This bug does not affect the main zone shut off. Wondering if anyone else has this problem? Besides firmware, what could cause/fix this? Turns out on further inspection of the manual, Zone2 will turn off even if you are playing music...
-Having the HMG server not function should not require 15 minutes to reset/debug. This is the main reason I am considering not keeping this unit.
-The OSD is certainly 1993-style ugly, it doesn't make sense these are designed for HDTVs through HDMI and have such low res graphics (the cnet review bagged on the Denon for this also).
-The lack of Zone2 support for HDMI inputs seems like a moderate-serious negative for anyone using a lot of Zone2. In the manual it's mentioned only on one line, so if you don't do your homework, you might spend time figuring out why you can't hear your DVDs in Zone2.
-Having the LCD (and iPad app) demo mode text on by default is stupid. Why put every user through this hassle? Does Pioneer think any potential customer is swayed by goofy scrolling text on the LCD? It's no longer 1982.
This is in the first generation of AVRs with Airplay. In tech, we all know what first generation means. The problem is you might have this AVR for 5 or 10 years, and Airplay and the iPad are going to be completely different, and certainly more sophisticated. Considering the level of effort to learn this and to get this product to work properly with Airplay, and perhaps the continued annoyance after everything is figured out over 5 years, many people will decide it's not worth it.
We are used to Apple releasing continuous software updates, but the electronics companies not as much. I would be willing to support continued updates of the iPad app by paying $10-20 for major releases if my older receiver was supported. If I felt fairly sure Pioneer would improve the software over the next year or so, I would be much happier with the purchase.
Good luck to everyone with their VSX-1021!