The Good The Soundcast OutCast speaker system is extremely innovative, featuring a weatherproof and completely wireless design that's a snap to set up; the included base station offers an iPod dock as well as multiple other audio-connection options; the transmitter works on a proprietary 2.4GHz frequency and can send a signal several hundred feet away; the speaker unit has a rechargeable, user-replaceable battery; wired and wireless audio quality is impressive.
The Bad The Soundcast OutCast is expensive and the speaker unit is large and heavy, which limits portability; the design is nondescript to the point of lacking any style.
The Bottom Line The Soundcast OutCast speaker system is an excellent--though expensive--choice for those who want all the benefits of great-sounding, outdoor wireless audio without the hassles of tricky setup and weather-damaged equipment.
Soundcast Systems focuses its efforts on a very limited line of wireless audio products and it shows: the company consistently earns praise for its top-notch wireless sound quality. Competitive pricing, however, is not Soundcast's strong suit, and the OutCast is no exception. This $700 weatherproof, wireless speaker setup is definitely not your average iPod speaker, but that's a good thing. It's innovative, extremely easy to use, and offers great sound quality. It could use some help in the looks department, though.
The Soundcast OutCast includes two main parts: the speaker unit and an iCast, which contains the wireless transmitter and acts as a base station for your iPod or other audio source. The iCast is a rather compact and nondescript-looking device that's shaped like a crescent moon lying face down and colored in computer white, muted gray, and a bit of neon green. A cradle that fits any dock-connecting iPod is built into the top, while a port for attaching other audio sources is housed in the back. Soundcast includes both an RCA-to-minijack cable and a minijack-to-minijack cable for connecting various devices. There's also a power input and a channel switch, which allows the iCast to transmit to one of three possible receivers. One of these is the included speaker, but Soundcast also makes a couple standalone receivers that can be purchased separately.
The OutCast speaker unit is patently not compact, nor is it the most stylish piece of audio equipment we've come across. That's not to say it's ugly, per se; rather, it has a nondescript look that will probably blend into most patio or garage settings nicely. However, it showed dirt and scuff marks very easily after just one jaunt outside (black would have been a better color option). And we'd be remiss if we failed to mention that several observers at our test site asked if it was a diaper genie. Namely, the OutCast is huge (it measures about 25-inches tall and 10-inches in diameter) and cylindrical, and it weighs 40 pounds. Thus, despite the fact that it's battery operated, it's not precisely portable; in other words, you can move it from place to place if needed, but you probably won't want to do it often. All this heft bodes well for durability, and also suggests that the OutCast is of the quality that the price tag implies.
Soundcast's OutCast speaker is perfect for summer
The Soundcast OutCast speaker system is an excellent--though expensive--choice for those who want all the benefits of great-sounding, outdoor wireless audio without the hassles of tricky setup and weather-damaged equipment.