The Pure One Flow packs in a boatload of features, but unlike the Logitech Squeezebox Radio, it sticks to a fairly plain method of displaying them all. The screen is monochrome and its pixels are gigantic. Nothing’s changed in the three years since the Evoke Flow was originally released, it would seem.
It’s still a perfectly serviceable, clear interface – just getting on a bit. The main menu is a simple list of key features: Digital Radio (i.e. DAB, it still has top billing), The Lounge, Media Player, FM Radio and Auxiliary Input.
Media Player lets you plug into any shared uPnP music libraries available over the same Wi-Fi network the One Flow is connected to, but The Lounge is where most online features live. It gives access to Podcasts, Internet Radio stations and, once you’ve registered online, FlowSongs, which is Pure’s own music store.
It’s within The Lounge that the radio starts to feel as if it’s straining against the limitations of its interface. Internet radio stations and podcasts can be browsed by letter, or searched for by selecting each letter within a virtual keyboard using the Select dial. This is rather basic compared with some rivals, which let you single-out “local” (usually within the same country) stations, and often even have a separate sub-menu for BBC channels.
The Pure One Flow does let you assign favourites for Internet Radio stations, plus the FM and DAB tuners, but for a casual flick through what the world’s airwaves have to offer, this radio doesn’t lead the pack.
In terms of pure content, though, it’s hard to fault. The BBC’s Listen Again content and thousands of podcasts are all available here. Listening to it all would take several lifetimes.
If you’re willing to cut the ties with traditional radio broadcasting entirely, the Logitech Squeezebox still does significantly more – offering Spotify streaming, plus access to a handful of other services. However, the mix of new and old that’s within the Pure One Flow is arguably much more flexible. Find yourself without an internet connection? Switch to DAB. DAB signal start to act up? Step down to FM.
Pure is also starting to integrate the connected and non-connected radio worlds, in a really rather fabulous way. We doubt whether the FlowSongs music store will pull many away from Amazon MP3 or iTunes, but part of its added functionality here is that it can be used to identify songs. As long as you’re connected to Wi-Fi, a contextual Flow button appears whenever you’re listening to a station. A tap on this will send a snippet of the song over to Pure’s servers for identification, and let you buy it should it be available. It’s like having Shazam built into your bedside radio. Using this service will eventually cost you £2.99-a-year, but as soon as we signed-up we were granted a free 12-month trial.
Any purchased music isn’t stored on the One Flow – it doesn’t have its own internal memory – instead staying in the cloud, from which it is streamed. You can access the store from your browser too, and as music from the service is DRM-free, you can download it and play it on other devices, too.
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An extra Pure-exclusive treat is a wealth of free sound loops – loads of the things – from a Moorhen’s call to “Dog Barking in the Wind” and the sound of 1994 Toyota Supra engine. Some require a certain masochistic streak to want to listen to, but equally some relaxation classics are in there too.