Wow, crazy thread. It kind of blows my mind that there is so much vitriol for a product. No one is forced to buy it after all, if this doesn't work for a buyer, I'm sure there are several options that will.
I find the Outlaw interesting for its lack of doo-dads. I currently have a Denon AVR-4311CI and am quite pleased with it, and I do quite like my XT32, but I had to pay much more than the 975's price to get that XT32. And XT32 is not on all that many units. The lowest priced Onk with XT32 apparently doesn't have the Sub EQ HT features that I like in my 4311. Maybe the lack of those features are important, maybe not, I have no experience with the Onk so I can't comment. But even the Onk is twice the price of the 975 (and reliability of Onk's seems to be a frequently debated topic).
Previously I had a Denon AVR-4306. I bought it for two reasons, it had 3x HDMI (still rather new back in 2005) and Audyssey XT. The unit was very solid in operation, and I was lucky that I didn't experience most of the HDMI issues other have experienced with other AVR's. However, while I tried, and tried, and tried Audyssey XT, and while it did change things, in the end I disliked as much as I liked about XT. I ended up going through several outboard sub eq's (SMS-1, R-DES, BFD, Antimode 8033) in an effort to get the bass from the sub right. In the end I had the best luck (with this receiver) with no Audyssey, using an Antimode 8033 and room treatments. Overall, I'd rather have no RC over XT and just use outboard EQ's/room treatment/bass traps. Even If I couldn't get away with bass traps (I love my wife), I'd still forgo XT based off of my experience with it.
I've also listened to other RC systems, namely YPAO and MCACC. As I don't think RC is really useful above ~200hz, I find these kind of compromised as they focus on >63hz only, and have limited control over the frequencies where most rooms need help. In my brothers room I found YPAO to do more harm than help, which is a shame as I always liked Yamaha products and happily owned several of their AVR's over the years. In the end, IMHO, their inclusion is of very dubious value.
I am intrigued by Anthem's ARC, but have no experience with it, maybe it is as good as its fans claim (no reason to doubt them), but the least expensive item you can get it with is the MRX300 ($999 USD MSRP), and you also need to have a laptop/computer to set it up.
So, shy of some of the pricier RC systems, my personal experience has cast a bit of a shadow on their value for me. Very promising technology, but as several manufacturers have shown, it is easy to make things worse with them than without them. If others have the same experience/preferences, why should they spend more for a feature that isn't going to be used? A tape measure and Rat Shack SPL meter don't cost all that much, and are useful even if you have RC/auto-setup features. Plus, several subs have PEQ's that can help tame at least the most offensive peak or two, for some, that may be enough in and of itself.
As for video processing, I have up-converters in my Bluray player/gaming system (PS3), my DVR, and my TV. I have an AppleTV as well, but use it just as a music streaming device, so I don't really care about PQ here. Do I need another up-converter? No. If my 4311 didn't have one I wouldn't really care. In the end I just have my TV do it all anyway, so not much value there,
As for USB, I can plug a USB dongle into other devices (PS3) and stream them, so that's not such a big deal. Or I can (do) stream music via the ATV2 (living within the "Appleverse" does have some constraints, but really isn't all that hard). So, again, marginal value, but if you are a FLAC fan or own a lot of HD downloaded music, I could see this being desirable.
The same goes for HDMI. I use 3. I may get a 4th item (looking at the Oppo 103), but I have survived quite easily with 3 for 7 years now. Most of my friends/family that even have stereos use the same number ( using some combination of DVR, DVD/BR, ATV, Gaming system). Even when I look at many of the great setups people on AVS have, they use 2-3 components. An additional input or two provides insurance, but isn't a requirement. Looking at Anthem's line of AVR's, which range from $1-$2k, all have just 4 HDMI inputs themselves, so it doesn't appear to be mandatory even in higher price units.
As for an additional HDMI out, mine just sits there. I own 1 TV. No PJ, no other sets, and I am able to fully survive and enjoy movies, TV shows, and games. If I did own a second set, it would probably be in my office to have the news on, not something I needed an additional HDMI output for. People that have a TV & a PJ's, dual TV screens, or dedicated set up monitors are a rather slim minority after all. So, little added value.
Overall, I think pre-pro's, AVR's, BDP's, and TV's have all taken too much to heart from the cell phone market. Cell phones these days do a bajillion things I could care less about, and most of them suck as phones. I don't see the need to watch a movie on my phone, but others do. Luckily both smart and dumb phones exist. The same can be applied to pre-pro's. While I am happy with what I have, I applaud Outlaw for taking a look at features and trimming out less useful ones for a lower priced unit. If the 975 was $2k, I think their omission would be inexcusable. For $550, it makes sense. As long as the unit is reliable (time will tell), and sounds good (Andrew Robinson seemed to think so), I think it is a solid option.