Ok, now I see what they are.
Ok, from what I can see. You are mostly paying for the tubes you're riding on. The frame is VERY basic. The seat is about as low end as you can go. They're using low end oars. You can do some major retrofitting on this boat (the bad cat) and be in the ballpark of a Steelheader (well I assume so, I bought mine for $1200 about 7 years ago). It looks like a good little boat, plenty of tube to keep you high and dry. But I really don't like the size of the frame. It's too narrow. I may be wrong, but looks like there is a boy of about 12 on the boat in picture at Ted's, and he's taking up most of room of inner frame dimensions. Just remember something about tubes/frames. If you have bigger diameter tubes (these are for length of tubes) you'll be floating higher. You want a wider frame for proper tracking and to help settle your center of gravity. Basically imagine taking a CJ-5 and giving it a 6" lift and try running verticle hills. You'll be bouncing all over the place. You have to realize, and as I said before, the more/better materials you use on a boat, the higher price. I'd like to know where they have their tubes made. If it's where I think, then I can see why they can sell cheaper.
In long run, it's what YOU want to do with a boat. I personally like to buy good tubes and build my own custom frame. More expensive, but I get the boat I want.
Also, alot of times it's the guy rowing boat, not the boat itself that gets you through. But, a good boat will help an inexperienced rower make it through. Prime example, if you look at my avatar, I'm running a nearly flood stage rapid (roughly a class 3/4 at time). I had run same slot in same conditions with my old Outcast. But I know what I'm doing on the sticks. Plus, I have kids now, I'm not as daring on lower end boats. LOL
Thanks for the info guys. Personally speaking, I feel the Steelheader is one of the best "premade" boats on the market. I'd save the extra cash to get one. BUT.....if you only plan to run simple waters most of the time, go with what your bankbook allows. I really use my boats. (My whitewater frame for my 16' cat has a dent in my rowers frame and cargo module from hitting a big rock dropping into a hydraulic off a class 4+), so need to stand up to abuse. Anyone up for Hell's half mile on the Calawah?