A Tablet? A Speaker? It’s The Aurender Cast-Fi 7

Cast-Fi 7 review - truly gadgets

A Tablet? A Speaker? It’s The Aurender Cast-Fi 7

When you’re looking at a compact speaker for your bedroom, bathroom, library, or kitchen, there are a few important factors to weigh. The same is true if you’re considering getting a tablet as a “second screen”, something to provide a welcome distraction while you’re chopping up vegetables or in the background while studying. Most tablets, though, don’t offer much in the way of sound- the speakers are tiny and limited. And most small speakers can’t offer much in the way of visual stimulation.

The Aurender Cast-Fi 7 aims to solve these issues, taking a 7-inch 1024×600 HD LCD touchscreen and building it around a reference-quality set of speakers with 24W of power. The end result is an unusual hybrid, and certainly isn’t for everyone, but is far more durable than your average tablet sitting in a wonky stand… and it sounds way better. At a bit over eight pounds, the Cast-Fi isn’t hard to move around, and includes a handle to make it easy to take to another room with you. More interesting is the dedicated HDMI input and USB power port with a special slot that’s ready-made for your Chromecast dongle, Roku Streaming Stick, or Amazon Fire TV stick. The angle of the screen isn’t really adjustable, but was set to 160-degrees, which works pretty well if it’s on a counter and you are standing or sitting on a stool. If you’re on your bathroom throne, though, it may be hard to find the right spot.

Let’s break down the specs a bit- the audiophile won’t be wowed but probably will be satisfied with the digital crossover, bi-amped one-inch tweeter and three-inch woofer. The overall sound signature was crisp and clean, with a lot more bass than smaller units can put out. It sounded great for dialogue too, and music streamed well with minimal setup. You might not recognize the brand, perhaps because they are based in Korea- Aurender is apparently a brand name of the SmartAudio Division of TVLogic. Despite the portability of the unit, there aren’t any batteries built-in, which means you’ll have to plug the Cast-Fi 7 into the wall. There’s a remote control included as well, which is nice enough- but a bit unnecessary, since you’re likely to be within easy reach of the unit while it’s on. The body is metal and feels pretty rugged, but it’s not waterproof or weather resistant for outdoors use (and we were even a little worried about our steamy shower).

We were left wondering who exactly would need one of these, in a world where a prior-generation iPad and a decent Bluetooth speaker will be more flexible, allow access to all of the fun apps, is easier to integrate into most homes, and would probably cost about the same as well. Granted, the Aurender Cast-Fi 7 didn’t vibrate annoyingly when an explosion happened, and the cabinet looked pretty slick on our counter. We could picture this being a fun bedside table item and a great way to wake up in the morning, but it’s a little limited in terms of functionality (you have to add a dongle to enable much in the way of features). And it’s simply too expensive at the moment. But it’s a pretty cool idea, executed well, in a class and niche by itself.

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