A receiver does not "need" video inputs, and most stereo receivers do not have them, although some have added that feature in newer models. Most if not all surround sound receivers added video inputs because someone perceived a consumer interest in switching audio and video inputs simultaneously from a single unit. There is some logic in that, especially since most analog TVs did not have multiple inputs until the home theater concept began to emerge. But many, myself included, feel that the best video quality is maintained by connecting video straight to the display, which we can do easily now with digital TVs that have a slew of analog and digital inputs. But many of the latest surround receivers now include some form of video upconversion, upscaling, and even half decent video processing that makes the concept a lot more appealing. But those added features are designed to sell the product, not make audio sound better, although an argument can be made that HDMI carrying both HD audio and HD video on a single cable has the potential to make even that point moot.
Three types of people in the HT world. (OK, lots of different types of people but indulge me here) All three positions are valid and each person does it the way they do it because it is best for their circumstances.
Those that run all their video from all their sources directly to the display and only audio to their audio system.
Those that run all their video from all their sources through thier audio system.
Those that run a mix of video connections from their sources to their audio system and display respectively.
Now with the advent of HDMI where audio and video are on the same connection, it's almost not really an option anymore.
Now I ask... Can you not invision reasons for the different connection scenerios?
At the present time, HDMI "encourages" you to switch your video at the receiver. There's no signal quality degradation with video. There are possible issues with routing through your AVR though.
The downside of routing video through your receiver seems to be HDCP. HDCP seems to result in some potential issues depending on hardware. One issue is that some cable boxes refused to work with an HDMI repeater (AVRs usually operate as HDMI repeaters.) Another problem I heard of is that (poorly designed?) cable boxes seem to be dropping and restablishing the HDMI connection for operations as simple as changing the channel.
I route my Tivo, XBox 360 and DVD player through my receiver via HDMI and it works fine - thankfully.
I could see where video sources start adding multiple HDMI outputs so you could bypass the receiver for video if desired.
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