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The 1050 is pretty plain to look at in the front, although the layout of the display, buttons, and knobs is eminently usable. On the back are all the jacks you really need, including four audio/video inputs (with three S-Video inputs), three audio-only inputs, and three assignable digital-audio inputs (one coaxial and two optical). If you want component-video switching from your receiver, you'll need to buy a more expensive receiver, however. But it does have a 5.1-channel input for a DVD-Audio player or other processor.
The receiver itself is very well built. Its heft will give you confidence that this is no toy. The six amplifier channels put out a modest 65 watts each; if you have big, inefficient speakers or intend to play your movies really loud, the 6.1-channel preamp outputs on the 1050 with a dedicated power amp might be a better choice. Using efficient bookshelf speakers, the 1050 sounded clean and unstrained, even at high volumes. The unit's bass management is superb, offering a five crossover settings, from 60Hz (for large speakers) to 200Hz (for microsatellites). Our only disappointment was the preprogrammed universal remote control, which can't learn new commands and emits an annoying buzzing sound when the backlight is turned on.
Outlaw designed its own proprietary algorithm for 6.1-channel surround-sound processing. As a result, the 1050 is not a certified THX Surround EX receiver. Outlaw instead describes it as "Surround EX compatible." We found the surround sound decoding to be just as convincing as other 6.1-channel receivers we've listened to, such as Onkyo's TX-DS787.
Sold on the Internet
Outlaw Audio sells the $599 Model 1050 online only, so you won't be able to stroll down to your local retail outlet and test-drive the 1050. Consequently, Outlaw's 30-day, unconditional money-back guarantee acts as your testing session. It's nice to be able to use it in your own home, but you'll pay for the return shipping if you decide not to keep it.
There's little chance of that, though. Not only is the receiver well built, but the manual is well written, and the tech support is outstanding. The reps at Outlaw are happy to walk you through the setup if you hit a hurdle that the comprehensive manual doesn't address. With this sort of personal attention, getting the most out of your 1050 is a snap.
Though a Dolby Digital/DTS receiver for $599 is easy to come by, a 6.1-channel model for that price is unheard of. So long as you don't have massive speakers in a cavernous home theater room or need component-video switching, the Model 1050 should serve you well.