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It seems like just about everything that could only ever be simple is getting 'with the times' these days, that is, technologically. We've got phones that can do things that no phone should be able to do, and it's quite likely they'll soon be painting our portraits and making us toast in the morning; indeed, I wouldn't be surprised if there was already 'an app for that'. When it comes to the humble radio though, there's not much they could do, is there? Well, going digital isn't a bad start.
With the new digital age came a whole host of new radios, and from one direction in particular; a company known as 'Pure'. What a name. Being someone that is easily won over with words, it wasn't long before I chose one specific line from this brand of apparent quality: the 'Pure One Elite'. At this point I wonder if I even need to continue the review. Those three words are just speaking quality. At least, one would hope they are.
If you're still living in the dark ages with analogue (nothing to be ashamed of - I still have an analogue television), then you may wish to know what makes it worth shelling out the extra for a digital radio. For indeed, they are considerably more expensive; take Argos as an example. Their cheapest analogue radio is just under £10, yet their cheapest DAB sits at just under £25. So why can you buy five analogue radios for the price of two DABs?
There's a whole host of reasons, but the main two for me are the guaranteed quality, and the station availability. Needless to say the Elite more than fulfils these claims, as well as an absolute catalogue of other quality features. Prices for appliances like this go up and down quite a bit so I won't list the current asking price, but I do strongly recommend shopping around; Amazon are doing it for at least £15 cheaper than Argos at the moment. Also note that you may have to pay more for the popular colours. I got stuck with the far less attractive white as the black was £10 more, and I wasn't that preferential.
The box is rather no-frills, but it was nice to see a big focus on the environment all over. There's a considerable amount of information about 'EcoPlus', a family of which this radio is a member. I was very impressed with the claims made, explaining how the product in its entirety had been made with the environment in mind; power consumption within the appliance is made minimal, components are selected that will have the least effect on the environment, many materials used are recycled, whilst the smallest possible amount of packaging is used. It's a very impressive start to the product, and on opening the box it's certainly testament to the claim of minimal packaging, with nearly no plastic in sight at all.
As well as the radio and AC cable, you have a rather chunky owner's manual (chunkiness due to the six considered languages - another plus). This acts as a superb reference throughout, and is concise and yet very much informative. You also have an online product registration form (which enters you into a nice little competition too), and another form to send off for a Pure ChargePAK C6L - this is a very efficient rechargeable battery for the Elite, racking up an impressive 35 hours per charge. Quality comes with a price though, and at £30 it's by no means cheap - but if you're going to be using it for portable purposes then it's far more effective than going through all of those bulky batteries. Finally you have a digital radio mini guide - how exciting! Whilst small this is still a very useful little introduction to digital radio, which includes (amongst other information of course) a link to find out what stations you should receive in your location (www.getdab.com). I must mention that Boris Johnson also finds his way onto the front cover of this mini guide - yet another plus.
Getting your wondrous new radio out (that measures in at 256mm wide x 155mm high x 88mm deep - not particularly portable if you ask me) you shall be met by a big smiley face! No, there's not a freakish little man in your box too, it's just that the layout of the radio front looks quite like a smiling face. You've a perhaps slightly too small rectangular display, below which is a well-sized volume/stations wheel, and around this are various smaller function buttons, before finally you have a standard standby button - acting somewhat as a chin in this face. It's an effective centred layout, and allows for wide speakers on either side, the left of which has a sticker stating, 'BIG Stereo Sound'.
The sound is indeed big. It's emitted powerfully through 'two full-range 3" drive units', and on full blast in alarm setting it will not just wake you up, but probably the rest of your street also. One annoyance I do have is the minimum sound level - it's not quiet enough in my opinion. I have the alarm on volume one, but if it's right next to your head then it can more than wake you up on some occasions - it'll fire you into the wall on the other side of your room. Well, maybe not. Whilst it's not ridiculously loud, I'd still prefer it if the volume were somewhat more staggered. In terms of audio as a whole though, it's certainly excellent. You're guaranteed to always receive a crisp sound, and of course that little bit of analogue buzzing is long gone.
Plug in the Elite and there's practically nothing to do other than entertain yourself whilst it Autotunes for a minute or so - perhaps you could try to figure out why Boris was on that front cover? Of course there's no need to ever-so-precisely set up the time according to that clock that you call up for an extortionate rate any more - it's all digital now! By the time you've realised that there's no reason for why Boris was present, the Elite should have finished. It'll pick a station (I think it was BBC Radio 2 for me - no thanks), and you'll be met with that Pure digital sound. Sweet.
Review done? I think not! There's got to be more than just a good sound and an average of double the amount of available stations against the analogue to convince me to dish out those pounds. First up, it's presets. Elite radio, elite standards, and with the ability to store up to 50 DAB and FM preset stations it's certainly doing well so far. OK, so the fact that I've got less than 25 stations available to me anyway does make this a somewhat dispensable feature, but still - you can of course add FM stations too; it doesn't have to all be DAB. Also, I live in Peterborough. Not London.
The alarm - everyone's personal hate. We all have our favourite radio breakfast presenters though, who we just can't hate. So let them wake you up - it's simple, it's efficient, and unlike my Nokia, it always works. You pick the station (or tone - but why?!), the day(s) and also the volume frequency (aka the how-wakeable-are-you dial). It lacks a 'snooze' option, but the radio has always been the best way of getting me up anyway, so I'm not missing out, personally. You can also use the alarm feature to put you to sleep - no, honestly. This is through using it as a sleep timer, which plays the radio for anything between 15 and 90 minutes as you drop off. You can even use the alarm as a kitchen timer - oh, the potential!
The 'ReVu' feature is a personal favourite of mine, and not one that I'm limited with because of where I live... This is one of the major potentials that DAB radio provides; being able to pause and play live radio, as well as then fast-forward and rewind what you've recorded since pausing. So you're listening to Radooyoo FM, you've answered four out of five questions in the super-duper prize extravaganza that will win you a brand new pair of curtains, and the last question is just coming up. Then there's that phone call from your favourite salesman, who, conveniently, is trying to sell you some curtains. Miss out no longer! The feature works amazingly well and you can easily return to live radio once you've paused and played. It's also great if you just need to pop out for ten minutes. You can come back, press play, and if it's that crap song again - fast-forward! Oh yes.
'Intellitext' is another feature which makes superb use of the facility that is DAB. It allows you to view news headlines and sports results from certain stations - I say certain stations because most don't make use of the feature. The only one that does for me is BBC Radio Five Live. Even then, it must be said that you are limited even in headlines, and information isn't often very fresh (as in, updated). Also, twice whilst I was using feature the entire radio crashed, forcing me to unplug it to force a shut-down. When I pay for an elite standard I expect that and nothing less - therefore, this annoys me very much so.
The 'textSCAN' feature is a simple and yet a most useful one. On the Elite you receive 'scrolling text' on most radio stations, which includes various bits of information such as who's currently presenting, or on Radio One, which song is currently playing - such a quality feature! Anyway, you can easily scroll your way through this information using 'textSCAN', which reduces the suspense of finding out who was right in the 'guess the song' competition between you and your fellow listeners yet further.
The Elite also has a bonus feature built-in, which is a Line In input. This is an analogue input which allows you play your iPod or MP3 etc., through the radio. The sound quality is sometimes lacking in this department, though it's still a nice feature to have added in. Note that whilst the input is there, the cable is not, so don't expect one. You also have a USB connector (again, no cable of note), which is present in case software upgrades should become available. If you register your Elite using that form from the box then you'll be informed of any via email - handy indeed.
Whilst you can include a catalogue of features within a product, these do become useless if accessibility is not structurally sound. Thankfully, it is. Navigation through stations is simple, although very occasionally slightly annoying using that stations wheel (which sometimes just suddenly starts adjusting the volume if you scroll too quickly). All of the features are easy to use and set up, and work efficiently and generally as described in the manual, which itself is a lesson in instructing and informing to all other manufacturers out there. Finally, the signal works wonderfully also, and very rarely do I pick up interference (if you do, then it's quite painful to listen to), even with the aerial barely out of its holder. All in all it's Pure and it's simple.
It's all rather good isn't it? A few other niggles however, I do indeed have. Firstly, the radio itself. It's of a good build and is fairly robust; the battery cover is quite poor though, and very liable to falling off at the slightest tug due to the not-so tight clips inside. The screen could be brighter, and just made clearer as a whole, even when the back-light is on. The cable is also a bit dodgy. I had to exchange my Elite radio due the cable developing a fault. This is because it's one of those annoying bendy-end power cables, for want of a better word (though I think that's quite technical). I much prefer the ones with a secured end as this seems to reduce the chances of a fault developing, as it did. Saying this, I did have my radio moved around a lot, due to it being used at work. If you're unlikely to move yours around much then you shouldn't face any problems. Finally, the Standby function; the button sometimes needs several pushes after it has been in standby, which I find quite annoying - especially so if I'm late listening to the start of a football game (why do they always score in the first minute when you're late?!).
Overall, I think it's a splendid DAB radio for me and the purposes for which I bought it. The benchmark it sets for certain features is phenomenal, and the way in which it 'doesn't just stop at that' amazes me; to throw in all those features under the alarm, for example, is exceptional. The structure to the radio is generally sound (no pun intended), whilst the sound quality is, well, quality. Admittedly, it's not the most portable of portable radios, and does have its minor flaws, even if it does claim to be 'Elite'. However, when you combine the range of features with the energy-saving initiative that the manufacturers have implemented with this little wonder, you can't help but genuinely appreciate it a lot of the time. Boris would be proud to own this One.