since I have a Sony AVR, I thought I could say a thing or two.
First one: since I've got a sony, they must be the best. Period. Discussion ends here.
Now getting serious, I bought a Sony STR-DH700 7.1 AVR in January 2011, for which I paid 200€. When I bought it, the only thing I missed was a nice GUI to set it up.
People here have talked about room EQ, well, I believe it doesn't do any and simply sets the distances, balance and levels. The biggest issue with this is that it doesn't do anything with the subwoofer, as if it wouldn't exist. For the levels and distance, I think it did it job ok, to be fair. I guess that Audissey and others do active EQing to have as a flat response as possible, correct?
Another minus point (that's a big one), is that the receiver is severely limited in speaker choice. It explicity says that speakers should be in the range of 8 to 16 Ohms. One could thing that it could cope well with 6 Ohm speakers too, but given the power the receiver has... better not risc it.
The power supply is a complete joke! I believe it's less than 300W! For a 7.1 system! That's a joke, yes. Lucky me, I only have 3 speakers and the sub, and living in a flat, I don't turn the volume as much as I'd like (sometimes), so to be honest, I've never felt I would need a more powerful amp, but even so... When I bought it, I though I was buying a 7.1 channel receiver with 100W/ch, now I see I rather bought a ~40W/ch.
Am I a happy owner? Actually, yes. I think it sounds very good, it's quite easy to set-up and, luckily, it has enough power for my current needs. Also, it only was 200€, so I guess I can't complain too much, and it hasn't had any problems. Since I have a Sony TV, I've set up HDMI CEC and that makes everything easier.
Would I buy a sony again? No way! Next receiver will have Audissey MultiEQ and a solid performance with good and accurate power rating. I wish I had the cash to buy a Denon 1713! Also, for the same price I remember I also looked at some Yamaha and Pionner, I wish I got one of those 5.1 AVR instead of this 7.1 "joke".