The other day I bought a Denon AVR-1909. It is quite nice. It supports 7.1, 5.1 and has two independent channels on top of that if you prefer to listen to audio using a set of stereo speakers, for instance. I have a relatively simple 5.1 setup. (Speakers and subwoofer are from KEF, really nice.)
The bad thing about this receiver is the horrible user interface you need to use to control e.g. your iPod or simply the interface you need to use to configure everything. It is similar with television. Who is going to build daily use electronic equipment that features Wi-Fi and a simple HTTP API to control it?
The benefits are hopefully obvious. Easy data sharing with your laptop, data stored elsewhere in your network, a competitive market place to create user interfaces. Since it will become so easy to create these interfaces they could be customized depending on the type of user, et cetera. I would totally buy into it.
As far as Denon receivers go the network bit is coming along. My iPod docking station features a network capabilities, more expensive receivers feature Wi-Fi. But then the manual suggests I have to use Windows Media Player to make use of it. Also, in terms of files it only does music and photos. Please, open it up!
(Another thing I noticed is that I paid too much money. The dollar prices are a lot lower. Sigh.)