I bought this new for $150. When giving a 4.5 rating, I am assuming somebody considering this system is looking at lower-priced systems.
That said, I have been very pleased. My previous system was an RCA RT2380, which I bought several years ago. That stopped working, so I needed a replacement. I will say that there are several things I liked better about that system as opposed to this system, but this was the best replacement I could find. If I could have purchased a new RT2380, I would have.
I think RCA may have made some changes since the Nov 2007 review that is also posted. The volume does go to 50 (the other reviewer said 47), and the individual speaker levels can be adjusted up to 10 db (other review said 5 db) higher or lower, giving a total of 20 db of adjustability. You can also adjust a setting for the distance between you and the speakers, which is nice because I have the front and center speakers about 7 ft away but the surround speakers are about 2 ft. These adjustments do make a subtle difference on the surround experience. I am not sure if other receivers in this price range have these features, but I think it would be irritating not to have them (my old system did have them, as well).
I like the inputs and outputs on this receiver as opposed to others in this price range. The digital optical and coaxial inputs are assignable, which is nice as I already had an optical cable for my DVD player. Other systems seem to have a coaxial input only for the DVD section, and optical inputs for satelite. This system does also come with a coaxial RCA cable, so I actually have both connected so I can choose either input for DVD (I have not done enough switching back and forth to really have a preference yet). For people that might have a second component with digital output, the assignable feature is beneficial. There is no iPod dock, but the line in input on the front panel is adequate for iPod listening. The provided cable is about 1 ft long, so I'll probably be getting a longer one that reaches the couch. I am fine with that, others may prefer a system that has a dock and remote control capability. This also is an audio-only receiver, with no video inputs or outputs. My TV has the video inputs I need, so that's not a problem for me at this time. It is worth noting for those who want to use one TV input and switch video signal through the receiver.
The speaker outs are real speaker outputs, not brand-specific connectors that will only work with the speaker wires that came with the system. This was actually a major selling point for me, as I want the versatility of being able to connect other speakers at some point. There is also a subwoofer line out for replacing the supplied subwoofer with a powered subwoofer.
A couple of points on the speakers:
The speaker wires are attched to the speakers, which means using any additional length of wire will require splicing. Some people would prefer to have one continuous length of wire. For rear surround speakers, I really don't think the splicing makes a noticeable degradation of the sound. I can't really imagine an application where the amount of wire attached is enough for rear surrounds, though.
Other point on the speakers is that they have a wire mesh-type grill, which shows the speaker drivers. The RT 2380 speakers had a cloth-type grill, which enable them to blend in more with other decor. This is minor, but worth noting. Again, it is very possible to use different speakers with this system.
The volume is definitely loud enough, though it does not seem as loud as my old system (despite a higher power rating). It goes as loud as I ever need it, but I have already had this at max, something I never did with the old system because it was quite a bit louder. The sound is clean and accurate, which I think is more important than mind-blowing power. I also live in an apartment and have neighbors, so my needs may be a little different than somebody who has the freedom of playing music as loud as a jet engine.
I do not notice the difference in input level mentioned in the other review, which may, again, be an area where RCA made some changes. There is inherently an overall volume difference between different surround modes, and I do have different inputs set to different surround modes. But with everything set for the same mode, I don't notice that the digital inputs are quiet or anything like that.
A very minor aesthetic note, the blue light around the volume knob is always on and bright when the system is on. This can be a little distracting when watching movies in the dark, but it's not horrible.
Overall, the performance of this unit is good, but what I like most is its versatility. As somebody who likes the ability to expand, this was a far better option that the other home theater systems available for $200 or less. I would absolutely recommend this.