Pure Sensia 200D Connect review
When we first reviewed Pure’s unusually shaped internet radio, we were unimpressed. A sluggish, unresponsive touchscreen interface put paid to Pure’s ambitions to bring its digital radio into the touchscreen era, despite some interesting ideas. The Sensia 200D is the firm’s update to its rugby-ball radio, and it makes a much better first impression.
Physically, it’s identical to the previous model. The whole thing sits on a plastic stand with two tracks in it allowing the radio to tilt back and forth. The touchscreen interface looks largely the same as well; it’s split into three panels with a list of stations to the left, a graphic representing the radio station to the right and the track or programme details below it, plus a row of icons along the bottom for navigation.
The good news is the stuttering, sluggish menus of old have been replaced by smooth animations, and lists of tracks and stations that can be effortlessly flicked up and down. It still isn’t quite the epitome of touchscreen perfection. Some of the buttons could do with being larger, and typing in keyword searches using the keyboard is fiddlier than we’d like. However, it’s generally usable and very quick to get to grips with.
Pure has also added a couple of major new features to its already broad selection. The first is the addition of an accompanying smartphone/tablet app. Dubbed PureConnect, this allows users to enjoy the same online content as that of the radio itself, including internet radio, Pure’s song-tagging and the Spotify-style Pure Music service; there’s also the Pure Sounds library, which allows you to relax to the sound of birdsong or waves crashing on a beach.
The app also allows the smartphone on which it’s installed to double up as a fancy remote control, from which radio stations and other content can be browsed and selected. Music stored on the phone can also be streamed directly to the radio with a couple of clicks, and it’s a great improvement on the rather basic infrared remote control that’s included with the radio.
The app isn’t perfect, though. Anyone considering forsaking their Spotify subscription in favour of Pure’s attractive-looking £4.99-per-month unlimited streaming service should be aware that there’s no way of bookmarking streamed tracks either on the app or the radio itself. We weren’t impressed with the app’s stability either; we experienced frequent crashes on the Android app.
The other new feature is the ability to record from either internet or FM radio directly to USB storage, either at the touch of a button or to a timed schedule. This worked reasonably well in testing, but it’s rudimentary: we’d far rather have a live pause and rewind function or some kind of pre-record function. Annoyingly, the radio wouldn’t allow us to play back recorded material immediately; we had to wait a few minutes before it became available.
The Sensia is capable of doing a lot, but there always seemed to be a niggle or limitation. Streaming is a case in point. We tried this from a number of different network servers, and found the experience distinctly patchy. Media Center music libraries streamed fine, but using Plex to serve music proved frustrating. We’d like to be able to wake up to a track on Pure Music, but this option doesn’t appear when setting up a new alarm. The Pure Music search is flawed, too, to the extent that it returned no results for “Coldplay” in the Artists section, but listed all the band’s music under “Albums” and “Tracks”.
We have no argument with the Sensia’s sound quality. As with most of the Pure products we’ve listened to in the past, both music and voice are presented with power and authority, and it can be turned up very loud without distorting, buzzing or rattling. It’s also an excellent DAB radio, easy to use and possesses a reasonably fluid touchscreen interface. However, for a radio this expensive, we’d expect a little more overall polish than is currently present here.