AV receivers - AirPlay, etc.

So I’m starting to research getting a new AV receiver for my living room. While looking at features on the new Denon receivers, I found out about something called AirPlay, which lets you (as I understand it) play music from your iPod/iPhone/iPad without even having to physically dock it at all, as long as it’s all on a local WiFi network. Which sounds awfully cool.

It then occurred to me that if you can do that with an iThing, what about just a lapto computer? Can I be sitting on the couch with my laptop, press some button, and the laptop audio starts coming out of the main home theater speakers?
So, (a) does anyone have any experience with AirPlay?
(b) does anyone have any recommendations for a good home theater receiver in the $400ish price range?
© does anyone know if there’s a way to do the laptop audio thing I was talking about?
thanks!

AirPlay is not officially available on non-Apple computers, but it has been partially cracked and is partially functional via the Windows Media Center application.

If the movie or music file exists on your mobile device, AirPlay works well, but in my experience, pulling a stream from something like Netflix, then bouncing it out to an AirPlay receiver, the bandwidth isn’t quite there.

I used to use the $99 Airport Express wifi device (which supports AirPlay) to feed an optical audio signal to my ancient Denon. The audio feed could come from an iDevice or from iTunes running on a headless computer.

I believe that you can do the same thing, plus get video from an AppleTV for $99.

Both support 802.11n.

As far as getting it ‘built-in’, ccording to the wiki -
*
“AirPlay wireless technology (receiver mode) will be integrated into speaker docks, AV receivers, and stereo systems from companies such as Marantz, Bowers & Wilkins, Pioneer, and Denon.[7] Song titles, artists, album names, elapsed and remaining time, and album artwork can appear on AirPlay-enabled speakers with graphical displays.*”

(a) does anyone have any experience with AirPlay?
I have an AppleTV (current gen., got it off Craigslist for $50, absolutely love it), which does AirPlay. It’s fantastic. It’s great to push Pandora from my iPhone to my home stereo system, and be able to control it on the fly.

(b) does anyone have any recommendations for a good home theater receiver in the $400ish price range?
I’ve been doing a little looking around lately as well, as I’m in the market to upgrade my current Onkyo 605, but I’m not in a huge rush (I’ll be upgrading my TV first). Have you been reading through the AVS Forum’s receiver section? Tons of advice (but somewhat hard to dig through). Right now, I think you’re looking at an Onkyo 609, a Denon 1712 or 1912.

© does anyone know if there’s a way to do the laptop audio thing I was talking about?
I’m not sure. What’s your current audio library set up like? Do you have everything in iTunes, or some other program? AirPlay isn’t going to be all that useful for someone without an iTunes ecosystem, and switching over may be something you’re opposed to doing.

My advice would be to get either an Apple TV or Roku device (or some other media center piece of hardware) in order to stream your music from your computer. That will give you a lot more flexibility in choosing a receiver.

Yes. I have an Airport Express hooked up to my stereo, which feeds in-ceiliing speakers in my family room, kitchen and back deck through a switcher box. As long as the stereo is on, I can play music through iTunes on my MacBook and it will stream to the speakers. In Apple’s infinite wisdom, they only allow iTunes music to stream through the Airport Express, but I have it on good authority that one can download AirFoil (for $25) and bypass the Apple walled garden, allowing one to stream anything from the laptop (like through Pandora) through the AirEx. It’s very convenient- I can be sitting on the deck with my laptop and control my music, which is streaming through my stereo that’s inside to the outdoor speakers, without so much as setting down my drink.

No idea- I haven’t bought home theater components in about a decade.

See (a).

AirFoil - that’s what I was thinking of. Thanks corkboard.

But I’m not so much interested in streaming iTunes music from my laptop, or anything of that ilk, as just redirecting the entire audio output from my laptop, basically using the home theater as laptop speakers, but wirelessly.

And if I have an ipod (which I do) and get, for instance, a Denon 1712 or 1912, which supports airPlay, do I still also need an AppleTV or some other external device?
This is all a bit confusing…

** just redirecting the entire audio output from my laptop, basically using the home theater as laptop speakers, but wirelessly.**
Most of the newer AV receivers have network support. What that means is…I have no idea. I’d bring it up at AVS (and report back what they say!).

**do I still also need an AppleTV or some other external device? **
No, you just need an Apple device (ipod, iphone, ipad) that pushes it to the AirPlay device.

Here’s Cnet.com’s review of the Denon 1912.

So it doesn’t look like you can just push any audio out to the receiver, which is also the case for regular AirPlay functions between an iPhone and AppleTV (you can’t even push Netflix).

Regarding pushing video via AirPlay:

And:

May want to look at Marantz 1402 http://us.marantz.com/us/Products/Pages/ProductDetails.aspx?CatId=AVReceivers&SubCatId=0&ProductId=NR1402or 1602 if you can swing the extra.
Also, www.orbaudio.com has packages that are worth a look. I have some of thier products and love them!