I decided it was time to upgrade because at present I have no control over the receiver's setting from the study because I keep the receiver (which is too deep to fit on the study shelves) in the adjacent wiring closet, along with the satellite box. I moved it there in 2008 after getting my Harmony 890 RF remote. The original plan was to have the back of the shelving removable so that I could have full access to the back of the A/V equipment, but while we framed the wall that way, after the bookcases went in I wasn't comfortable hacking a huge rectangular hole - which would have to be recessed for the equipment to go back into it to get the depth I needed - in the back of the new cherry bookcases. So for several years (2004-2008) I just lived with the A/V equipment overhanging the shelving. As I said, I moved it in 2008 when I got a RF remote, but always had the problem that I couldn't see what the receiver was set on, and the codes the remote could access were usually "scroll" ones, so I was never sure if the insanely complex sound settings were right.
What I needed was a GUI interface so that the receiver's setting could be viewed and changed on the TV. That's what this unit has. It's a terribly, terribly primitive and slow interface, and still suffers from the same problem that it doesn't give you a full menu of selections, but it's better than what I had.
What I had not anticipated was how much the new receiver would change my setup. Instead of the TV getting its video via HDMI from the Blu-ray, satellite box and Apple TV, with the audio from all three plus the SACD player going to the receiver, now all the HDMI cables run to the receiver, and one HDMI cable runs to the TV. When I got done, I had a stack of RCA cables, plus an unneeded IR audio and coax audio (I think they're called). And for the first time, the subwoofer is working for both audio CDs and TV/DVDs. That's a nice improvement.
I had been worrying about how to hook my old SACD player up, since I really like the sound it gets on the few SACD disks I have, and was surprised to find that the Blu-ray player played SACDs at (apparently) full quality using its HDMI cable. So I could take out my bright silver SACD player completely. That meant I could adjust the shelving to accommodate only the very slim Blu-ray player under the TV plus the Apple TV box next door. I mean, if the Apple TV light wasn't on, you wouldn't know there was anything on that shelf at all now - and the center speaker can stand upright (it was bothering me greatly that it was on its side because the lettering was running vertical..).
Of course it's taken me several hours to get the wiring transferred and the old cables pulled out of the way, and then redo all the settings on the Harmony remote, but now I have the den activities down from four to three (the separate audio CD activity is gone): Study TV, Study Blu-ray and Apple TV. I have not yet been able to get the Apple commands to work through the Harmony, but that's really not that big of a deal.
I looked at upgrading the Harmony to a 900, but it offered very little new for a $350 price tag, so I stayed with the 890. I don't like the 890 much, frankly, but it's working okay, and I have figured out the programming so it can control all the stuff in the study and the home theater upstairs.
The receiver is also wifi-ready - thats its big selling point - so it can receive AirPlay signals from an iPad or iPhone, as well as being controllable using iPhone apps (which is really would prefer to the awful GUI). The problem is that without the remote I can't log it onto the house's wifi. I have a IR repeater coming to let me use the receiver remote in the study for that next week. I tried hooking up a small TV in the closet to do it in there, but neither the RCA nor the component jacks worked with my old Toshiba TV. So the Internet will just have to wait. As a practical matter, I don't need it except for audio settings because the Apple TV lets me do whatever I want with the Apple devices, and both it and the Blu-ray player have access to all the online services (Netflix, Amazon, YouTube) including the radio services like Pandora. I could hook the Apple up directly using the front USB port (although it would mean running a cable from the closet through the wiring hole to the study shelving) but there's just no need.
As I mentioned, I also got two small bookshelf speakers by Polk to replace the previous 1994 Boston Acoustics, which got moved to the back after I blew one during the Apollo 13 launch sequence in 2007. The blown one still buzzed badly when something loud was played. The one remaining good one I promoted to center front, to replace a cheap Pioneer, and I have been very happy with them so far. You can see it at right, over the subwoofer, which had to stand upright because it's too deep to lay down. I really need to come up with something to put over the subwoofer, because that's really a lot of black down there.
So a few notable improvements over the previous setup - and now we have two unneeded Sony receivers, not counting the college Sony and law school Pioneer (I actually think I gave that one away).