In terms of aesthetics, the Denon 3808 and 4308 are the best receivers I have ever seen. Both the chassis and configuration menus look like they were designed by guys over at Apple.
While I like the aesthetics, I really wish Denon had devoted more of its engineering resources to video (i.e. Silicon Optix or ABT scaling and deinterlace). There's no excuse for the craptastic
Faroudja FLI02310 video processing. That was an acceptable price/performance solution in a $200 DVD player a few years ago, but it's no good by modern standards. That chip was never intended for high-definition processing. It doesn't do inverse telecine on 1080i signals -- it can't correctly deinterlace movies on 1080i HD channels -- and it always introduces some degree of macroblocking into its output. Of course, you can disable video processing on the 3808, and I am sure many will.
I haven't seen many posts on this, but Denon doesn't appear to have made many (any?) improvements in the audio [quality] department either. Aside from PC/Mac integration and Internet radio, the audio specs on the 2007/2008 lineup look like they are taken straight from the 2006 PRs. They are using the same Burr-Brown PCM1791 DACs released back in 2005, rather than TI's new and improved Burr-Brown PCM1796 DACs.
Perhaps I am a bit biased because I already own a Squeezebox3 for streaming audio and Internet radio, but I expect more from a $1500 receiver upgrade
than a fancy case / ui design, Internet radio, and better PC integration. I expect key improvements in audio and video performance. I also question whether one can get any meaningful use out of PC integration with such a small 2-line display (or is media functionality integrated into the OSD with an iTunes-like interface?).
It looks almost like Denon's marketing department determined the design criteria for the new receivers, with the clear goal of appealing to a wider audience, i.e. those who know less about A/V specifications and performance, but make their decisions based more on reputation and looks. At least to me, the priorities for the Denon 2007/2008 designs -- relative to the 2006 designs -- appear to be:
1) Case aesthetics
2) UI/OSD aesthetics
3) PC/Mac audio streaming & Internet radio
4) Audio quality
75) Video quality
Until it ships, the verdict is still out on the Onkyo 875, but at least it looks on paper like they had the audiophile/videophile in mind with their design, i.e.
1) Audio quality
2) Video quality
3) UI/OSD aesthetics
75) Case aesthetics
Why do I say that? The Onkyo 875 has Silicon Optix ReonVX processing, THX Ultra2 Certification, dual push-pull amps, and Burr-Brown's newest PCM1796 DACs (123dB SNR). The Denon 3808 uses the same three TI SHARC DSPs as the Onkyo for audio decoding and processing, but has inferior Faroudja FLI02310 video processing, inferior Burr-Brown PCM1791 DACs (113dB SNR) from 2005, and at least on paper, an inferior amp design.