Pure has had a great 2012. Not only has the company broken from its traditional digital audio comfort zone with a HD television set-top-box - the Avalon 300R Connect - and shown it had a touch of British spirit with its Union Jack adorned DAB radios released during the Jubilee and Olympics, but it has also embraced the cloud more than ever before.
The Pure Sensia 200D Connect is a touchscreen all-in-one, one-stop media shop. It is a DAB, FM and internet radio. It is capable of playing music files stored on computers or network drives dotted about your house. There's Pure Connect (formerly Pure Lounge) compatibility, hooking up the company's Spotify and iTunes-rivalling cloud music service. And you can also wirelessly stream lossless audio from your Apple and Android devices, a la AirPlay but across formats.
In short, it's pretty nifty.
Design-wise, the Sensia 200D Connect is interesting. Looking much like its forebear the Pure Sensia, being similarly rugby ball-esque, the 200D Connect is similar on the outside, but greatly improved on the inner. The touchscreen is the same capacitive 5.7-inch display with a 640 x 360 pixel resolution. While this wouldn't be impressive on a mobile phone, it more than does the job in this instance, with the natural brightness standing out in even the most colourful of kitchens.
Apart from its shape, there are some practical elements to the design. The 200D sits on a plinth with grooves that allow the main body to slant back and forth, so you can adjust its vertical tilt to suit.
Around the back there's a USB port, where you can plug in a memory stick or external hard drive, or use it to charge a mobile device. There's a 3.5mm headphone socket and 3.5mm line-in, which can be used with an iPod or other MP3 player. A proprietary optional ChargePAK rechargeable battery can be added instead of batteries to give it mobility. Other than that, you need to plug it in at the mains. And the internet connection is through Wi-Fi.
Let's not forget that, despite its many bells and whistles, the Pure Sensia 200D Connect is a music playing device and, in that, it accomplishes its task very well. The majority of output you push through it will be lossy - MP3s and the like - so you don't really need something that can handle the finer points of clarity, but the 200D handled everything we threw at it with fine, throaty aplomb.
Although it's not one to crank up to full volume, the 30W RMS can be jacked up enough to fill the sort of room it'll be housed in - a kitchen, small living room or bedroom. And we'd say that its audio capabilities are on a par with similar priced speaker docks - with many more talents on top.
We particularly like the Pure Connect compatibility. You need a subscription to Pure Music to get the most from it, but there's a stack of free content to stream, including every internet radio channel under the sun and bird noise, among other interesting audio clips.
If you have Pure Music and the Sensia 200D Connect registered, you can also make use of the "Tag" functionality, which allows you to tap a button on the egg-shaped remote or on screen during the playback of any song and the software will try to find it on the cloud and offer it for purchase. There's also record and rewind functionality, should you add storage in the form of a USB drive or external HDD.
But what we're most impressed with is the ease of use. It's all well and good having a stack of features, but if you can't figure out how to access them, what's the point? The Pure Sensia 200D Connect offers a seamless experience, with access to your music wherever it may be stored, online or locally, and is a damn fine radio to boot.
It's also had a recent firmware update that has brought more stability to the product (along with the name change from Pure Lounge to the more fitting Pure Connect) and Pure's commitment to keeping its products fresh must be applauded.
The Pure Sensia 200D Connect is available in black, white, orange, green and mango - the last three having white bodies and coloured speaker gauze. It costs £249.99 and can be bought from a number of retailers, including the Pure online store itself.
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