I spend a great deal of time complaining about DAB - The poor infrastructure, broadcasting at narrow bandwidths, signal inconsistencies... When it's good it very good but when it's bad it's absolutely awful. I think the general public will be quite alarmed when the analogue signal is discontinued completely unless some improvements are made. DAB+ brought some technical improvements theoretically though anyone owning the original standard DAB radios would need to upgrade their sets, quite annoying for early adopters of the new technology.
I'm not exactly singing the praises of DAB at the minute which is odd considering that this is the fourth radio I have in my house so far excluding DVB boxes. The Pure Sensia however brings some new tricks to the table and it does with a great deal of style too.
Pure are a British company founded in 2002 who make DAB radio sets for worldwide commercial sale and are innovators in the industry. You'll find that many low priced generic brands borrow a certain amount of style from the Pure branded radios. The other Pure radio I currently use is The Bug which is a design collaboration with Red or Dead designer Wayne Hemingway and well worth a look for it's quirky presence.
The Pure Sensia is a beautifully designed unit available in four striking colours: Red, Black, Silver and Yellow. The coloured accents are banded around the centre of the unit with the speakers being a typical black with a fabric covering. Unusually the radio itself is a rugby ball shape with a separate stand that allows the radio to be tilted forwards and backwards.
The centre of the unit is dominated by a high quality 5.7" full colour touchscreen TFT display which provides access to the interface. Here you have access to the settings such as volume and preferences with the option to choose your audio source. Radio is available via FM, DAB or Wi-Fi giving a massive choice of listening options to suit every taste.
FM and DAB are very familiar but Web radio is probably a new concept to many people, especially casual listeners. The benefit of Wi-Fi, together with a broadband connection, is a simply huge collection of radio channels from all over the world which can be organised by location, alphabetically or by genre. To be clear, the term worldwide really does mean everywhere. Initially we listened to stations in Japan, Chile, Israel, Pakistan and Russia, all with crystal clear audio with no fluctuations in quality. We were very impressed.
A big selling point of the Pure Sensia is the ability to utilise apps for internet based services such a localised weather forecasts, RSS feeds, Facebook and Picasa. Facebook for example can be used to manage up to ten accounts so you can monitor status updates and see the latest gossip, the app running simultaneously with your chosen station. The touchscreen is bright, clear and very easy to use. Simple touches and swipes are all that are required to flick between apps and stations and windows can be both minimised and maximised much as you would when using a PC or Mac.
A similarly stylish remote control is included for basic functions though obviously you need to be interacting with the unit directly to get the best from it. The control is RF based as as opposed to the usual IR so you don't need to be pointing straight at it to use it, or even in the same room. There is also a 3.5mm headphone socket, USB and an input for mp3 players.
Digital, FM and internet radio
Flow technology for internet radio, listen again programmes, podcasts, PURE Sounds, and media streaming from a Wi-Fi-enabled computer
FlowSongs service enables you to buy music direct from your radio. FlowSongs is currently exclusive to UK customers as a public beta
5.7" 640 x 480 pixel TFT colour touchscreen
30W RMS of class leading audio
Radio station slideshow via Wi-Fi and broadcast DAB
Apps for Facebook, Twitter, Picasa, RSS feeds and more
Input for iPod/MP3 player
Takes an optional ChargePAK E1 for up to 10 hours portable listening. (Based on DAB listening. Other functions may vary.)
RF remote control
30 digital radio presets, 10 FM presets and unlimited internet favourites
Easy-to-use tone or radio alarm (mains power only)
3.5mm stereo headphone socket
Upgradable via Wi-Fi or USB
Visually impressive the Sensia also provides quality audio from all sources. For FM and DAB the aerial has to be physically extended though it does lean backwards at a strange angle so it can't be place flat to the wall for some reason. I find that I almost always choose to use the Wi-Fi mode which is quick and stable and doesn't require the aerial at all. The only requirement is that your router is powered on and you have entered the security key.
The dominant screen is very striking and looks vibrant displaying station information and apps. The main apps I tend to use are the RSS feeds which I have linked to the BBC news site for the latest headlines, Facebook and weather. The screen is fairly responsive and you soon get used to the required sensitivity much as you would when perhaps trying a new mobile phone.
The big selling point for me is the Web based radio due to the phenomenal amount of choice there is. I found a great Swiss station that plays Christmas songs all day, every day of the year which was nice over the festive season. The other benefit is that when using a broadband connection you are not affected by atmospheric conditions regardless of where in the world the station is broadcasting from, something that you just can't say about DAB in the main.
Compared to other radios I have looked at and listened to the Pure Sensia is streets ahead of the competition scoring high in all areas. The contemporary design, strong audio quality and fantastic touchscreen make this a class leader and coming in at around the £180 to £200 mark it an absolute bargain.
As with all technology you will find it attracts dust and the screen will need regular wiping to maintain the glossy facade but that is the limit of any negativity and to be honest if that's all I can come up with then it is a startlingly good product.
Uber stylish piece of tech that fits in with high end electronics products despite the low price. Brilliant colour screen screen provides easy access to a mulitude of features on what is a clear five star product.