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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Color me surprised.
What a disappointment. And to add to the kick in the nuts, the 998 they have planned is ugly. Looks like that retro 2250 stereo receiver.


Here's the email I got this morning:

Quote:
As most Outlaws know, we have been working with Inkel to jointly develop a single hardware/software platform to be sold by Sherwood Newcastle as their R-972 audio/video receiver and, with substantial modifications, by Outlaw Audio as the Model 997 surround processor. Now that the R-972 is finally on the market, it is time to update you on the status of that project.


To get right to the point, due to the current state of the R-972 and the inability of Inkel to properly implement our required changes, it is with great regret that we must inform you that we have cancelled the Model 997.


We know that this will be extremely disappointing to those who have been waiting patiently for this product. That is equally true for us at Outlaw. With interest in this product from thousands of customers, it is obvious that this will result in lost sales. However, we feel strongly that under the circumstances we have made the right decision.


The Reasons Why


To better understand the reasons behind this decision, we would like to share some of the details that brought us to this conclusion.


* Half way through the development of this platform, Inkel switched the video processor to the Reon solution. While this move improved the performance of the unit, it caused other side effects and delayed completion of the platform by almost nine months.


* Proper implementation of the Trinnov Optimizer Room Correction System also took longer than expected, pushing all aspects of the schedule back even farther.


* We have been testing pre-production beta samples for at least five months, but the inability of Inkel to get both the underlying platform to operate to our specifications and to have the Outlaw-specific changes made properly caused delays well beyond our initial production start date.


* HDMI 1.4 and 3D have come to market with a speed that is considerably quicker than anyone in the industry had anticipated. The demand for compatibility with these key technologies and the fact that we could not offer them in our new processor put the final nail in the Model 997's coffin. Knowing that many of you have waited for the Model 997 as your first HDMI processor, we could not introduce it with anything less than the absolute state-of-the-art in digital connectivity. We simply would not put you in a position of investing in a processor only to find out later that you needed to replace it with a new model when you moved to 3-D.


* The time we have invested on the Model 997 has diverted our attention from the other products we have in development. With many of those products reaching a critical stage, we had to make a decision on where to invest our resources. The payback on spending any further time or effort on the Model 997, which in our opinion was still not ready for production, was no longer there.


When considering these issues, compounded with several others, it became clear that the Model 997 platform design no longer met your needs or ours. We delayed this decision (some might say even longer than we should have) in the hope that things would work out favorably, but that was not to be. Again, despite the realization that this would be a disappointment to the many Outlaws who have been waiting patiently, we felt that even if the Model 997 was fully debugged and ready for production, it is now past the point where we could sell this processor as it stands. It would just be too far behind the curve the moment it was released.


What Happens Now?


We know that our decision raises many questions, so we'll answer some of them here and follow up with additional details as we move forward.


Most importantly, we are firmly committed to offering surround sound processors. Before the end of the year we will introduce a new product to take the place in our line-up that the Model 997 would have occupied. In reality, this new model, which we have been planning for some time, was originally intended to replace the Model 997 when that product came to the end of its life.


Given our experience with the Model 997 project, it is important to emphasize that our new flagship processor will NOT be derived from an existing platform. It will be an Outlaw exclusive design, built from the ground up to our own specifications and manufactured for us by a company responsible for many high-end brand home theater products. By taking total control of this new model we are assured that it will meet our highest standards for performance and product quality.


Now that we no longer have the diversion of the Model 997, we are totally focused on the new product, and we're turning up the heat on this project. As an example of the speed with which we are proceeding, our engineering teams have already completed the design for the 3D compatible, HDMI 1.4a video board. The chips needed to build this board will arrive before the end of March.


To give you a taste of what this product will deliver, here are some of the top level features for what we have code-named the Outlaw Model 998:


* Multiple 3D-Ready, HDMI 1.4a inputs and outputs, including a front panel jack for connection to digital cameras and camcorders.


* On the audio side, Dolby Volume, Dolby PLIIz, high-performance DACs and balanced audio outputs.


* Also on the audio side, our commitment to the Trinnov Optimizer has not changed. We have heard and evaluated Trinnov and assure you that it is the real deal: far ahead of any room correction system we have ever heard, at any price. With this new product, we will implement Trinnov so that it works the way it is meant to be used - and heard! Trinnov is fully on-board with our plan, and they are now exchanging details with our engineering teams.


* On the video side, there will be state-of-the-art video processing and scaling when you want it, and full bypass when you don't. The interface and menu system will be straightforward, easy to use and powerful, all at the same time.


* Direct USB software upgradeability without the need for direct connection to a computer or the need for any loader programs. You'll simply download the new software to a USB drive when needed, plug it into the front panel, and the processor will take it from there.


Barring any unforeseen complications or component price increases, this new processor will be close to the price range of the Model 997. It will be hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars lower than anything even remotely like it. And yes, the $200 credit for past Outlaw processor customers will still be valid on this new unit. When you see and hear the video and audio performance of this processor and use its flexible but easy operation and interface, we're confident that you'll be as excited as we are about our new processor.


Lest anyone have any doubt about our commitment to this product, we invite you to click here to take a sneak peak at the preliminary front panel design.


Finally, you might ask where this leaves us in the next few months. We have a number of great new products in the works, along with some exciting new partnerships that will enable you to upgrade virtually every aspect of your home entertainment system. Stay tuned for more information in the weeks and months ahead.


Thank you in advance for understanding the reasoning behind this very tough decision. While it pushes our new processor back a bit further than we'd like, the end result will be an all-new product that better suits everyone's long term needs. More than ever, our new surround processor and the other products we have in the pipeline for 2010 will make Outlaw Audio the one place where "The best values in Home Theater are just a mouse click away."
 

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You've got to give them credit for transparency. How many companies would have either quietly canceled the model ("997? What 997?") or released it anyway, bugs and all?


I'm curious whether the new products on the front burner include anything 2-channel.
 

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Quote:
the 998 they have planned is ugly

lmao, and the UMC-1 is pretty
or the any other piece of electronics would win the house keeping in room looks award



I Like the 998 looks myself but in the end ALL electronics should be hidden because its all UGLY!!
 

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I like the look of the RR2150. Its distinctive retro appearance is one of the reasons I favor it over Emotiva separates with their bright blue bling.


If Outlaw does have a new 2-channel in development, I'd like to see one that includes coax and optical inputs (instead of just USB) and a very good headphone section.
 

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It certainly is a gutsy decision - and one that I'm sure they didn't want to have to make. It sounds like they're taking a very different approach to product development this time around (which seems like a smart move, considering the pains that the R-972 has gone through).


As for looks, everybody's opinion will vary. Some folks hated the Model 990's appearance, but I was happy with it. Some folks argued that the Lexicon BD-30 was much more handsome than the BDP-83, but I have always liked the BDP-83's appearance and am underwhelmed by the BD-30. I also think that, having seen the RR2150 in person, it is a cool and distinctive design. I think it's a nice tough to draw some cues from the 2150 for this piece. I also think that the front panel design has the potential to offer good information in a legible form. Some folks will hate it, of course - that's inevitable. I'll wait until I can see photos of a finished piece before I decide, but my initial reaction is positive.
 

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Who really cares what an audio processor looks like? That's sort of like considering what a TV weighs as part of your purchase decision.


I'm surprised to hear this news, although it's not in any way a shock. I am definitely surprised to hear that the replacement won't be based on any existing unit, and a little disconcerted. While it gives Outlaw full control over the design and implementation, it also puts the ball firmly in their court to get it right, and get it right the first time. Emotiva's recent foray into launching an in-house HDMI processor should serve as an object lesson in some of potholes along that road.


Hopefully they'll nail it, though. I'm still happy with my Onkyo 885, but competition is always a good thing.
 

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It's funny, I have waited over a year and a half for the 997, limping along with the lack of features on my 970. About 2 weeks ago, I gave up and pulled the trigger on an Integra 40.1. I was shocked that the Integra could SOUND sooooo much better than my 970 (I even had professionally calibrated seperate parametric EQs for each channel). Not to mention the vast amount a features a new generation pre-amp could bring such as HDMI switching without handshake issues, Video Scaling, ISF controls (squeeze for 2.35:1), Auto Room correction, and the simplest thing - on-screen volume indicator over HDMI. I was a firm supporter of Outlaw and have purchased three of their pre-amps over the years. I Just don't think I will wait around for them again.
 

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Probably shoulda' killed the 997 a long time ago. (The hardest thing in management is to quash a project.) Which may speak to Outlaw's management effectiveness. Nevertheless, I hope they don't think they can string people along like was done with the 997. They need to turnaround this project ASAP; their credibility is on the line.


My respect-o-meter for Outlaw just jumped downward a whole bunch.

And their web site still has the 997 listed. Boys, get your act together!


JF
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Operon /forum/post/18298880


Probably shoulda' killed the 997 a long time ago. (The hardest thing in management is to quash a project.) Which may speak to Outlaw's management effectiveness. Nevertheless, I hope they don't think they can string people along like was done with the 997. They need to turnaround this project ASAP; their credibility is on the line.


My respect-o-meter for Outlaw just jumped downward a whole bunch.


JF

I agree that Outlaw needs to move forward quickly with the development of the 998. But I respect Outlaw more so for pulling the plug and not putting their customers through the pain of dealing with a flawed product from the outset. Either way there will be some unhappy people specifically those who were waiting to buy the 997. Time will tell if Outlaw has made the right decision
.


Bill
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Operon /forum/post/18298880


Probably shoulda' killed the 997 a long time ago. (The hardest thing in management is to quash a project.) Which may speak to Outlaw's management effectiveness. Nevertheless, I hope they don't think they can string people along like was done with the 997. They need to turnaround this project ASAP; their credibility is on the line.


My respect-o-meter for Outlaw just jumped downward a whole bunch.

And their web site still has the 997 listed. Boys, get your act together!


JF


lol, unlike emotiva who released a BUGGY Pre/pro
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Operon /forum/post/18298880


Probably shoulda' killed the 997 a long time ago. (The hardest thing in management is to quash a project.) Which may speak to Outlaw's management effectiveness. Nevertheless, I hope they don't think they can string people along like was done with the 997. They need to turnaround this project ASAP; their credibility is on the line.


My respect-o-meter for Outlaw just jumped downward a whole bunch.

Based on the Sherwood 972 thread, there have been a lot of promises of firmware updates "just around the corner" - a style of promise that we see from a lot of manufacturers, not just Sherwood/Inkel. When and how you determine that it is no longer time to trust those promises is a difficult thing, doubly so in the case of a company trying to manage product development based on those promises.


I think that having plans in place to move forward beyond the demise of the 997 is a sign that management is thinking ahead. I also think that scrapping a product that they could have shipped a month or two ago speaks to their desire to maintain quality in their products even when it may hurt sales volume in the short term. As a consumer who would have been looking closely at the 997, I can appreciate that.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Operon /forum/post/18298880

And their web site still has the 997 listed. Boys, get your act together!

The announcement cancelling the 997 was only sent out a few hours ago. They wouldn't want to take the 997 page down first, and they may want to replace it with something else for folks who missed the announcement and visit the site.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Operon /forum/post/18298880


My respect-o-meter for Outlaw just jumped downward a whole bunch.

Other way 'round for me. I have more respect for them having made a difficult decision rather than stringing their customers along any further. FWIW, I think they made the right choice, considering how quickly HDMI 1.4 and 3-D are being implemented. What I'm really curious about is how well they will implement Trinnov compared to Sherwood's effort.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdurani /forum/post/18299379


What I'm really curious about is how well they will implement Trinnov compared to Sherwood's effort.

Me too - I'm still very curious about Trinnov, but what I've read in the 972 thread suggests that it's been difficult to get set up effectively.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·

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Originally Posted by penngray /forum/post/18299260


lol, unlike emotiva who released a BUGGY Pre/pro

Why you keep bring Emotiva into the thread is beyond me, but guess you have a reason(s).


A bit disappointed in Outlaw, but I guess in the long run it's for the best. A buggy 997 isn't what I wanted, but after waiting for so long for it to come out, and for Outlaw to keep feeding the "it's almost ready" line for so long, it makes you wonder why they waited so long to kill the thing off.


I'll be hanging on to my 970 and wait for something better to come along. If that something better is an Outlaw, that's fine with me. If it turns out to be another brand, that's fine with me too.


As far the the ugly comment I made, yeah, I still think the 998 is ugly. Some people don't mind what their gear looks like, but I do. The proposed 998 looks cheap to me.
 

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I'll go out on a limb and take a WAG - the 998 comes out in 9-12 months and is based on the Emotiva XMC-1. From what I've read on the Emo Lounge they may consider adding 3D capability.


For Outlaw to start over from scratch I'd say they would be looking at 2 years minimum to get something to market.


Maybe they'll base the 998 on a current platform? This approach makes more sense.
 

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I doubt it will be XMC-based. As for starting from scratch, it sounds to me like they had started laying the groundwork some time back. That would make a lot of sense - even if the 997 has launched last fall, they would have needed to be moving on to the next generation due to the delays that the R-972 platform endured, and after the delays that Inkel/Sherwood have a reputation for it would also make sense to look in a different direction for that next generation.
 

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All you have to do to discount this theory is actually read the email as posted. It clearly states that the replacement model is the model they had already been working on for some time as the successor for the 997 at the end of its life cycle. Since the 997 was supposed to be out a couple of years ago we are getting close to a point where they would have been looking to put out the new model anyway. Development was likely slowed by them still trying to work with SN to get the 997 out, but I doubt that held them back too long. They also clearly state that they had already decided to take over development themselves instead of working with a partner. So, instead of adapting someone else's platform and having to deal with the back and forth of getting everything done, they are doing the design themselves from the ground up and whoever ends up doing the manufacturing for them will be a contractor instead of a development partner. Taking this route likely has been and will continue to be a lot more work for them, but it will make it much easier for them to prevent another 997 from happening. It is much easier to fire technical consultants and contractors than it is to end a partnership which one has put a lot of work and effort into with expectations of it all coming together as one's partner says it will.


Chris
Quote:
Originally Posted by Knucklehead90 /forum/post/18299813


I'll go out on a limb and take a WAG - the 998 comes out in 9-12 months and is based on the Emotiva XMC-1. From what I've read on the Emo Lounge they may consider adding 3D capability.


For Outlaw to start over from scratch I'd say they would be looking at 2 years minimum to get something to market.


Maybe they'll base the 998 on a current platform? This approach makes more sense.
 

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Exactly. Outlaw does the right thing and they get chided for it. The only thing they are guilty of is trying to work out things to hold a partnership together for longer than they probably should have. But breaking something like that off after putting so much time, effort and resources into it is not easy.


They could have just taken the hardware in its current state and put their consumers in the same position owners of the 972 are in right now. Instead they are taking the hit on sales and on every dollar, hour, and thought they put into trying to get the 997 out instead of saddling their customers with a product that is so much less than what they had hoped for. IMO, this not only puts Outlaw back in the top tier of ID companies, but places them above many of the big name manufacturers. This event is definitely not a good thing, but Outlaw's actions in it most definitely are.


Chris

Quote:
Originally Posted by sdurani /forum/post/18299379


Other way 'round for me. I have more respect for them having made a difficult decision rather than stringing their customers along any further. FWIW, I think they made the right choice, considering how quickly HDMI 1.4 and 3-D are being implemented. What I'm really curious about is how well they will implement Trinnov compared to Sherwood's effort.
 

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Quote:
what I've read in the 972 thread suggests that it's been difficult to get set up effectively.

Gonk, note that the Outlaw email this morning makes a specific reference to "proper implementation" of the Trinnov tech. That suggests to me that Inkel didn't implement it optimally on the 972.


This isn't Peter T's first rodeo so I suspect well before they started offering the Onkyo 886, they were considering alternative solutions to the Inkel dilemma. A changing design (such as the move to Reon) is always a red flag to anyone who's done hardware/software development, so I'm sure the signs of disaster were quite visible some time ago. As a result, I will maintain a little cautious optimism that Outlaw CAN get the 998 out this year. But just a little.
 
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