While the Evoke Flow’s two main control dials should look largely familiar to anyone that’s used one of Pure’s previous models (and even if you haven’t, volume and select are pretty self explanatory), the rest of the interface will be new to everyone. It uses an array of touch sensitive buttons. The three that sit under the screen are context sensitive so their function changes depending on what’s on the screen at the time. The combination of these three buttons and the select knob enable you to navigate through menus at lightening fast speeds. Something which is helped no end by the fact that the menus are incredibly intuitive.
Every function you could imagine is where you would expect and is quick to access no matter what else you’re doing. Even text entry, which is needed for searching the hundreds of Internet radio stations, is simple and snappy.
The screen also helps a great deal in this regard. It can display multiple lines of information at once so you’re never left endlessly scrolling to find the information you want. Also, as well as having very high contrast levels, the OLEDs it uses are completely resistant to any of the usual problems with viewing angles that plague LCD panels. No matter what direction you’re looking at it from it’s always perfectly readable. It’s also light sensitive so it auto-dims when used in the dark, which makes it both kinder on the eyes and easier to live with if you’re a light sleeper.
Taking at closer look at the basic functions, the Flow can tune to both FM and DAB and can store 10 presets for the former and 30 for the latter. Tuning (FM) or station selection (DAB) is achieved using the select control and quickly flicking it will set the list of DAB stations free wheeling, saving you from continually spinning the knob. Tuning performance was not the best we’ve ever seen at our office where the signal is poor. We sometimes manage to coax a few stations to appear on some radios but we got nothing with the Flow. At my home however, where the signal is good, it picked up as many stations as any other radio we’ve tested.
Tuning into Internet radio station or hooking up to your personal music collection requires you to establish a network connection, which if your network is secure can be a bit of a pig as you have to enter the long security key. There’s also no wired connection, which, even given the ubiquitous nature of wireless nowadays, seems like something of a miserly omission.
To listen to your own music collection you must either stream music from your computer (most commonly by setting up your computer as a music server using Windows Media Player 11) or the Flow can connect to any UPnP server, which most NAS appliances have. Setup can be a little tricky if you’re not sure what you’re doing but once you’re underway, browsing and listening to your music is very easy with music filtered into artists, albums, and songs, just like you’d get on a normal MP3 player.