It's been a long time coming, but it looks like AirPlay is finally making its way to the top end of the receiver spectrum. Pioneer's new line of Elite receivers stuffs a ton of impressive features into a (relatively) affordable package.
The new line stacks up well against Pioneer's last top-of-the-line model, the $2,200 SC-37. The whole line is 3D-ready, and the beefy VSX-53's 7-in/2-out HDMI setup outpaces the SC-37's 6-in/2-out. Sadly, they use HDMI 1.4a instead of the more useful 1.5. VSX-52 and 53 also feature Qdeo 1080p video, which allows for better upscaling for larger displays. And naturally, Pioneer's AirJam technology is in there as well, which connects to up to four iOS devices by Bluetooth.
The line runs from $450 to $1,100, though the $450 model doesn't have AirPlay, DNLA 1.5, connectivity to the iControl2 AV2 iPhone/iPad app, or many of the other goodies that make the line so sexy. In fact, it's not really clear why the VSX-40 is included in the Elite line, considering Pioneer's mid-grade VSX-1021 is $100 more and probably offers better value with all the features that have been stripped away on the low end model.
Of course, the inclusion of AirPlay in this generation is the big takeaway, but since it's already available in the VSX-1021, you should only be looking at these if you're in the market for a brain-meltingly great receiver in the first place. Still, it's pretty awesome that it's now an option if you are.