e've had smart cars, smart
phones, and now Pure
have come up with a
smart radio. This rugby-football-shaped device is an FM, DAB and
radio with its own internal speakers and a 3.5mm jack for connecting
headphones or your hifi: it can run from the mains or an optional
internal battery pack. It's 270mm wide.
The difference from previous devices of this sort is the inclusion of a
touch-screen, providing information and navigation: see the screenshots
on the right and below.
This is of most use with internet radio, where long lists of stations
be involved: the list can be scrolled in the same manner as an iPhone
or iPod Touch, by a sharp movement up or down of your finger.
Individual stations can be selected by a tap (actually a tap and hold
for about half a second as the whole process is a little slow). Station
information is displayed, and in the case of DAB some stations transmit
slides which are shown in the top right pane.
This pane can also display 'apps' (small dedicated applications) - so
far there are only two: weather, and Twitter: more are promised. You
reach them by scrolling the display sideways, then up or down to reach
the apps: a tap on the top right-hand corner will expand the display to
The weather is a bit slow to update (when first switching on, if it's
displayed when you start it usually won't update at first and you need
to go to
something else and then back). Twitter does seem to update properly,
and you can even post to it by using an on-screen 'virtual keyboard',
which is also used for entering network information when you first set
it up. It's of necessity a bit slow and awkward to use: OK for a
that's about it.
FM radio is tuned, awkwardly, by an on-screen slider: I found it so
insensitive as to be useless (whereas my cheap FM portable works fine
in the same place) and I wonder what Pure think they are doing with
this - assuming it's not an actual fault on my radio, don't think of
using this device for FM. As I wouldn't anyway, I'm not that bothered.
DAB works fine, and the list of 30 or so stations is easy to browse:
you can also set up favourites.
radio is accessed in conjunction with Pure's website 'The
' (left), in much the same way as some other makes use
The Lounge, once you have established a login and registered the radio
with it, enables you to set up favourites, in folders if desired, for
easy access to stations - these then appear on the radio. If a station
isn't in the list you can enter its URL manually.
The radio can also access podcasts, but here there is a severe
limitation. As far as I can determine you can only access podcasts
which are in Pure's list - quite a number, but nothing compared to the
number of podcasts out there. On the Reciva site you can add a podcast
from its feed URL, but not here - you have to submit it to Pure in the
hope that they will add it to their list. This isn't really a good
solution and needs attention.
You can also access 'listen again' programmes, mostly BBC, to hear
items you missed, stream music from your computer
(once you have
installed some software) and plug an iPod or other device into the set
to play from
On the whole the set works well, once you have got used to the handling
- in particular the slight delays on everything. (The set is switched
on or off by holding a button on the top for two seconds, or there is a
remote control with basic facilities - not including station changing).
The downloadable 'QuickStart' manual
and the online manual
could do with being more detailed -
and the lack of proper information seems to confuse a lot of people to
judge by the reviews on Amazon: I found my way round it fairly easily,
but then I've had a lot of experience with complicated equipment.
There are some niggles: the podcast limitation is one, and the set
truncates displayed programme information over a certain length: this
is particularly annoying with Radio IO Classical, where by the time
it's displayed the composer and performers there often isn't room for
the work's title. Occasionally the set says it can't connect with the
Lounge - this doesn't affect DAB but it means you can't change the
internet station: I don't know whether this is the set or a failure of
the Lounge to keep up with demand - usually switching off and on, or
occasionally a reboot, cures it. It's crashed a couple of times,
failing to change stations or switch off, and again removing the mains
from it cured that.
The sound from the internal speakers is pretty good, though I'm using
it entirely with the hif-fi, and there the results are limited only by
the incoming quality - DAB is fine (mostly - some stations are a bit
edgy) but of course internet radio stations usually have a low bitrate
and this can sound a bit off. I have to say I would like to see phono
outputs in addition to the headphone output: 3.5mm jacks will give
problems sooner or later.
On the whole I'm pleased with it and would recommend it - if you're
prepared to splash out £250. I wonder whether, as with the iPhone, this
will kick off a series of imitations from other manufacturers
Posted by Roger
Wilmut 16 December 2009