By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Startup Soundcast Systems has developed a wireless-audio system said to transmit music interference-free from docked iPods and MP3 players up to 150 feet in the home to one or more sound systems.
The company's iCast system is designed exclusively for iPods, and the Audiocast system is intended for all other brands of MP3 players. Both systems consist of an arch-shaped docking station/transmitter and companion arch-shaped receiver, which connects to any audio system in the home.
Soundcast's products will overcome the industry perception that wireless isn't capable of delivering noise-free high-fidelity music around the house, said sales and marketing VP Rusty Bennett, formerly with Phoenix Gold, Seiko and Aiwa. They're also easier to set up and use than the majority of similar products, which are based on 802.11 wireless-network technologies or Bluetooth, Bennett contended.
The company, owned by contract manufacturer KSC Industries, is focused on developing wireless audio and plans additional products, including wireless surround-speaker systems for home theater use. Soundcast's first products, however, focus on wireless distribution of MP3 player audio because of the MP3 market's growth and retailers' need for high-margin products that can be added onto the sale of a 10- to 15-point iPod, said Bennett.
The iCast receiver/transmitter bundle retails for a suggested $299. Additional iCast receivers are $129 each. An Audiocast bundle retails for a suggested $249, with additional receivers costing $119 each. They will be available online and to retailers in April.
When connected to a PC, the iCast and Audiocast systems also transmit compressed music in any format from the PC to sound systems in other rooms. Unlike most other systems that connect to a PC, however, no software setup is required, Bennett noted.
Although the iCast and Audiocast systems share the same wireless architecture, they differ in some respects.
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