Would it be fair to guess that eventually all of these players (HD-DVD and Blu-ray) will eventually get to the point where they all have the advanced audio decoders in them, which would make having the decoder in the receiver moot anyway?
One can hope. Two things could happen as new, lower priced hi-def players come to market: decoder chips become cheap enough that players can decode everything internally; or manufacturers save money by leaving out all but the basic (mandated by spec) decoding, leaving the rest up to receivers.
Personally, I would prefer if format recognition and decoding were to move completely to players. This way, receivers would have to deal with incoming PCM signals only. Hypothetically, if some new audio codec shows up (Dolby Truly TrueHD or DD+++), you'll have to change players anyway. But if the new players decode the signal and output it as PCM, then your investment in your current receiver is safe.
New formats and players could keep on coming out, but your receiver would always see a PCM signal coming over HDMI. I think it would make upgrading less painful, hopefully encouraging consumers to embrace new technology a bit more easily.
Don't almost all SD DVD players have DD and DTS decoders in them, for example?
Hardly any DVD players with DTS decoding. All do DD decoding, but most output only a 2-channel version (either through analogue connections or as PCM via the digital outputs).
The common way to hear multi-channel audio on DVD is to transmit the un
decoded signal to your receiver, where proper decoding can take place; the opposite of the current trend with hi-def players.