Pure Sensia review
Ever since Apple transformed the smartphone market, manufacturers have been attempting to shoe-horn touchscreens into all manner of devices. The Pure Sensia brings the technology to internet radios, but does it have that iPhone magic?
Alas not. When we first previewed the Pure Sensia we said the company would have to sort out its stuttering firmware if the touch interface were to succeed. Sadly, and despite another firmware refresh, the interface remains decidedly doddery. Scrolling through long lists of radio stations with a flick of the finger feels like an endurance test: instead of scrolling smoothly, the list frequently judders and grinds to an awkward halt. Often you find you’ve selected a station by accident, and with button presses often taking a couple of seconds to register, correcting mistakes is by no means the work of a moment.
It’s a desperate shame, because what lies underneath the touchscreen shows genuine promise. DAB radio is beautifully presented, with a pane of the 5.7in colour screen devoted to additional information from the networks, such as news headlines with accompanying photos, or graphical promos from the broadcaster. Internet radio stations, accessible through Pure’s smartly designed Lounge service, are presented in a similar fashion, while FM stations are tuned via an intuitive graphical dial.
If Pure could make the interface more responsive we’d be talking about a potential award winner, but after four attempts the firmware shows no significant signs of improvement. The radio appears to be throwing too much at a limited processor.
Part of that problem is the other standout new feature introduced with the Pure Sensia: applications. Aside from the demands of the glossy display, Pure’s also asking the radio to process data from web apps. At the time of writing, there are currently only two apps available: a widget displaying the weather forecast and a Twitter app that allows you to post and read updates from friends. Yet, even this limited selection has problems – two lines of text crash into one another on people’s updates, and entering your own tweets using the leaden onscreen keyboard is painful.
A Facebook app is promised in the coming weeks, but Pure will need to rapidly expand the range and quality of these apps if this is to become anything more than a gimmick. Indeed, the most useful non-radio feature of the Sensia is the option to display your photos on the screen, turning it into a pseudo digital photo frame, although these have to be streamed from another PC in the house.
Then we come to the design of the unit itself. The oval-shaped casing is certainly eye-catching, and the unit pivots smoothly on its black plastic stand, so that you can adjust the viewing angle of the screen. The stereo speakers are housed either side of the screen, and as we’ve come to expect from a Pure radio, they deliver a crisp and forceful sound. The cavernous rugby-ball design seems to accentuate the bass, and the unit’s solid construction helps avoid the rattle and distortion that can afflict portables.
The device ships with a matching remote control, although with a mere eight buttons, it’s useful only for basic functions, rather than searching for stations by name, for example.
In conclusion, the Pure Sensia is a powerful, feature-packed radio that’s severely hobbled by the unresponsiveness of its interface. Pure promises that further firmware updates will follow in the coming weeks, but unless there’s a dramatic increase in performance, the Sensia will go down as an expensive device whose ambition outstripped its capabilities.