When is a radio not a radio? First, when it's an internet radio (which strictly uses wires, not radio waves), and second, when it does so many other things that the term 'radio' only touches the surface.
But in two ways this is a 'real' radio, as it receives both DAB and FM and it also connects to your internet router wirelessly, ie. by radio.
Among various other features, by far the most striking is its ability to play music off your home computer, again wirelessly. Close behind that must surely be the user interface, which is a very natty touch-sensitive screen, just like the ones on many current mobile phones, complete with swipe-sensing.
Pure has been at the forefront of digital radio developments since it got in on the DAB act very near the start, but this is by some way the most advanced product we've seen from the company. Its real beauty is that it does so many internet-and computer connected things, but it isn't a computer.
A computer is a wonderful device, but it's essentially a general-purpose device and, as such, invariably compromised in terms of single-purpose use, such as audio.
You have to do tiresome stuff like launching applications and fiddling with settings and although with experience this soon enough becomes second nature, there's just something a lot more satisfying about a designed-for-purpose, audio-only box.
So this funky-looking unit does some clever things. It even features 'apps', just like a mobile phone (actually a lot of its functionality resembles that of a smartphone): currently you can access Facebook and Twitter and I dare say more is to come.
If you've heard any of the really upmarket table radios such as those from Meridian, you won't be blown away by the Sensia. It does OK with everyday radio fare including compressed pop and speech, but with more subtle stuff it lacks both precision and gain.
There seems to be quite a lot of raw power on tap, but with classical music the maximum volume setting just doesn't seem to be quite high enough. The sound is a little coloured, especially in the treble which is on the dull side overall but has some distinctly audible resonances in it.
Of course, you can always use headphones, or take an output from the headphone socket and use it to drive an external amp and speakers. This is actually quite an impressive experience and it's most gratifying to hear how good the quality is on many internet radio stations. Maybe not quite as good as well-done FM but perfectly listenable.
It's also encouraging that high-rate MP3 files can be satisfactorily streamed wirelessly from the computer. Uncompressed WAV files stutter a bit, suggesting there's not quite enough bandwidth, but 320kbps MP3 seems fine.
The Sensia doesn't seem to recognise any losslessly compressed formats – I couldn't check with the instructions as they are online only and lack rather a lot of detail.
Operating the Sensia is a very pleasant experience, while the 'Flowserver' software that runs on the PC, which is acting as the media server was easy to install and set up. It's certainly a very impressive piece of kit and certain to be a talking point.
If the sound is a little disappointing, it's only fair to bear in mind that £250 is not a lot of money and Pure doesn't claim this as a super-audiophile product. However, as a superbly-featured radio it has a lot to offer.
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