Pure Contour - Features and Controls
Round the back of the device you'll find a sturdy and long telescopic aerial that did a reasonable job of finding stations at our office, where we have a very poor signal. There are also jacks for Headphone and Aux In along with Composite and S-Video outputs for piping video from your iPod to a TV (we really don't know why audio companies put these on these compact iPod docks â€“ it's not a value add, no-one ever uses them!).
Internally you'll also find Wi-Fi for hooking the Contour up to your Internet connection, whereby you'll be able to access Internet radio stations as well as the Pure Lounge. The latter links in with an online portal for you to easily manage what online radio stations you want to listen to. If you're without Wi-Fi and require Ethernet you can buy the optional miniUSB to Ethernet adapter for just that purpose. All three of these connections can also be used to update the device with its latest firmware.
Getting back to the main control cluster, you have a half a dozen or so buttons for controlling the main interface, with Home on the left, three buttons underneath the screen that change role depending on what the screen is showing, plus Up and Down arrows, Select and Back on the right. Joining these are Power, Volume Up, Volume Down, and Mute buttons nestled in the strip that runs over the top of the device. All are touch sensitive, which means you loose the tactile appeal of proper buttons, making it more difficult to grope around in the dark. However, they are all backlit, so as long as you can see them, they're easy enough to operate. What's more, Pure's signature touch of being able to simply tap the top of the radio to snooze any alarms is on hand, which is always welcome.
You also get a remote, which is a fairly generic looking lump of black plastic. However, it feels reasonably solid and comfortable in the hand, and takes standard AAA batteries rather than the button cells of some alternatives. The buttons aren't backlit and are rather drab looking but do have a generally intuitive layout and an action that lets you're know when you've pressed them. We're not too sure how long the graphics on the buttons will last with prolonged use, though.
Overall, the control system doesn't quite feel as nice as we'd hope. Most previous Pure's we've encountered standout precisely because they're so easy to use whereas this model is rather sluggish. For example, when moving through menus you regularly scroll right past the selection you wanted because you've pressed the up or down buttons too many times while waiting for the display to update. Also switching between inputs takes between two and three seconds while powering the unit on takes the best part of 10 seconds.
The display itself isn't the best, either. Rather than the OLED panels we're used to seeing on Pure devices it uses an LCD which is much more perceptible to having poor viewing angles. And indeed we found in the crucial test of checking the time from the comfort of our bed that it failed miserably, with no numbers clearly discernible. This isn't to say the whole thing's a disaster, just that you'll have to sit up in bed to check the time.