A built-in touchscreen transforms the Pure Sensia from a regular radio into a versatile, engaging, and fun audio streaming device. The radio of the future? It could well be...
DAB radio and wireless streaming devices are fairly commonplace these days, but the Pure Sensia has no trouble standing out from the crowd thanks to the inclusion of a large touchscreen display.
Far from being a superficial addition, the Pure Sensia's large 5.7in capacitive glass touchscreen transforms the radio interface beyond all recognition. One thing's for sure, it's hard to back to a regular remote control after you've handled one of these for a while. With a with a reasonable resolution of 640x480 the screen is great to look at, and functions as both a display for menus, station information, and an assortment of other goodies.
The capacitive part is important because (like the current generation of smartphones) it means that you only have to lightly touch the Pure Sensia's screen rather than press down on the glass, this makes scrolling up and down easier, which - in turn - makes flicking through long lists easier.
It turns out that this is a fairly smart move. Long lists are something of a bane of DAB radios and wireless media streamers because they do, by their nature, access a long list of radio stations, podcasts, and your music library. Navigating these menus and list with remote controls and miniscule displays has long been a drawback of traditional audio streaming devices.
See also: DAB/Internet radio reviews
It's a versatile device too: with DAB and FM it has regular radio covered, and there is a mode called "Pure Lounge" which is a collection of internet-based audio. There's a set of internet radio stations from around the world, and a large collection of podcasts; there's Listen Again, which has a collection of radio shows available for a second listen (mainly BBC iPlayer shows); finally there's a large collection of ambient mood sounds (bird tweets, rainforest, dogs barking, and so on). You can also hook to either a PC or Mac for media streaming, and navigating your audio collection is easy.In fact, just about the only thing you can't do is play video on the device.
Pure recently updated the Pure Sensia firmware to version 1.4, which now includes on screen apps. The applications currently include Twitter, Facebook, and a weather program. While you're unlikely to do much social interaction on the Sensia, the apps act as good screensavers while the music plays; alternatively you can have the large screen act as a photo display. When the device is on standby it acts as a nice clock with a virtual flip-card display.
And what an interface it is: the left hand side is devoted to a list (usually a list of channels, depending on what is active), the bottom right displays current track information, while the top right displays a variety of info from the various apps: FaceBook, Twitter, weather, and so on (it even displays channel specific information such as webcams from radio stations). On the bottom of the interface is a series of buttons for various options. Clicking the Source button, for example, lets you switch between DAB, The Lounge, Media Player, FM Radio, and Auxiliary. The menu options fan out in a circular display.
One slight downfall is the implementation of scrolling. Long lists fail to scroll as smoothly as you'd like, and it's clear that the speed of the device should be faster. This makes flicking through long lists a chore, which is something of a drawback on a device designed to display the thousands of channels available via DAB and Internet radio.
On the upside, you can search for specific stations using an on-screen virtual keyboard. The presence of the keyboard is another area where the Sensia excels over other audio streaming devices. The keyboard also makes logging on to the Wi-Fi network a breeze.
The audio of the device is surprisingly clear given its small stature. The Pure Sensia has a distinctive elliptical shape, it looks somewhat like a smaller version of the Bowers & Wilkinson Zepplin. It has to be said that - like the Zepplin - it's a gorgeous piece of kit to look at. And with its diminutive stature it's easy to place it on a shelf where it blends in seamlessly with your room, powering out good quality sound.
There's a large aerial extending from the rear of the Pure Sensia, and a powerful internal Wi-Fi antenna (we found it could find networks from a long way away).
And it's a good job the audio is very good, because at £249 the Pure Sensia sits right at the top-end of audio streaming devices. However, its comprehensive feature-set (DAB, FM, internet radio, Listen Again, podcasting and media streaming) ensure that you're unlikely to need another audio device for a long time. And the touchscreen display adds a level of interaction sorely lacking on other similar devices.
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