SunBriteTV Model 4660HD Outdoor LCD HDTV Out-coutrements
Man does not live by OTA broadcast TV alone, and there are several things you can use to beef up your outdoor-TV experience. What I found to be the most significant and useful add-on to the 4660HD was Soundcast’s impressively awesome OutCast weatherresistant, portable, wireless speaker. The $999 OutCast is a 26-inch-tall cylindrical speaker tower with 360-degree dispersion, multiple internal amplifiers, an 8-inch down-firing woofer, a built-in rechargeable battery, and up to 300-foot reception range from the included iPod dock wireless transmitter. I connected the 4660HD’s optical audio output to a small, inexpensive optical-to-analog converter I bought online ($36 at Monoprice.com), and ran the DAC’s analog audio output to Soundcast’s optional $200 Universal AudioCast Transmitter (UAT), which easily fit inside the SunBrite’s weatherproof connection cavity. This setup allowed me to use the TV’s internal speakers, the OutCast speaker (after moving it to the other side of the pool), or both at independent volume levels.
Whether you have a pool or not, I highly recommend replacing the weatherproof remote control SunBriteTV ships with the 4660HD with a more functional, easier-to-use, waterproof universal remote control, such as URC’s MXW-920 ($500). While it’s not meant to be used under water, it will float if you happen to drop it in the pool. It can also control up to 40 devices—even those that are out of sight—with the addition of an RF base station. That way, you won’t accidentally leave your satellite receiver’s remote control out in the rain like I did.
Other gadgets that come in handy with an outdoor TV can help with connectivity. Since my cable runs were going to be at least 40 feet from the indoor system to the SunBriteTV on the deck, I decided to use this as a chance try out a couple of HDMI extenders from SnapAV, otherwise known in the trade as HDMI balun kits. Essentially, you plug the HDMI cable from your source into a small black-box transmitter. On the other end, an HDMI cable goes from another small black-box receiver to an input on the TV. Depending on the type of HDMI extender, you can use Cat5e/6 (up to 130 feet) or coax (up to 400 feet) to connect the transmitter to the receiver. SnapAV’s HDMI extenders also allow IR passthrough.
Wireless HDMI is one way to cut the cord—at least some of the cord. I used an Actiontec MyWirelessTV transmitter/receiver kit ($229, reviewed in “Air Def TV” on page 54) with great success to connect my recently installed DISH Joey HD DVR to the SunBriteTV 4460HD. The Wireless Home Digital Interface (WHDI) people also sent an evaluation unit of a wireless HDMI kit that uses an HDMI dongle for the transmitter. I was interested in this because it allowed me to use the 4660HD as a 46-inch monitor for my laptop—so I could stream movies, look at family photos, or even write reviews out on the deck when the weather is nice.
Since I didn’t want the miscellaneous wireless HDMI receivers and Soundcast audio transmitter to use electricity 24-7, 365 days of the year, I used a Belkin Conserve Smart AV ($30) auto-off surge protector that turns off five of its eight outlets when the TV is shut off. It’s a great device to use with your home system, too, although if your particular wireless devices take a while to sync with each other, you may want to leave them plugged into the always-on outlets. I was also worried about heat buildup in the waterproof enclosure I’d found to store the outside gear in. While ventilation supplier Active Thermal Management didn’t have a waterproof enclosure, the company did come up with a way to modify the one I had and keep it cool using a pair of its 3-inch fans that come in the System 3 enclosure cooling kit ($124.95).