Pure Digital Élan DAB radio: reviewSunday, January 08, 2006
This post reviews Pure Digital's Élan DAB radio (digital audio broadcasting). I loved their Bug radio (see my Bug review), so when I wanted a small portable DAB radio for my rather less than roomy kitchen, after some research I went for the Elan.
What's DAB? DAB is digital radio, with excellent non-hissy reception and sound, stations you can't get on analogue radio, info on what's currently playing etc and the potential for timeshifting (pausing and rewinding live radio) and programming recordings with electronic programme guides, and more. See Pure's digital radio FAQ.
The Elan is slim, stylish and elegant in design, and also the smallest, most easily portable Pure radio to date, other than their clock/pocket radios. It runs on both mains and six C batteries, not supplied. See the full specs. (A note of warning: there is also the Élan DX20 which costs pretty much the same, but has no FM and 3 fewer presets. Guess which one I went for! So don't get them mixed up.)
This radio just works from the moment you switch it on, automatically tuning quickly to the available stations. Reception and sound quality are both excellent (in London, at least); I haven't even had to extend the aerial. The controls are along the top and are easy and intuitive to use (with headphone socket also at the top), and you can have 8 preset stations: 4 accessible via a single button, and 4 via two button presses each. You can even switch to listening to FM (again with 8 presets) if you take it somewhere without DAB reception.
At £59.99 from Amazon it's pretty much the cheapest radio in Pure's range, so not surprisingly it doesn't have many of the features sported by Pure's The Bug (see my Bug review). You can't pause or rewind live radio or record, and there's no SD card slot or USB port for firmware upgrades. The scrolling display could be bigger (it could always be bigger!), but it's perfectly adequate. At this price I really wouldn't expect more than the basics, and for that it performs extremely well.
The only niggles are battery-related. The batteries are very fiddly to insert into the not very ergonomic compartment, which has springs at both ends and isn't very battery-shaped (tip: insert the two end batteries first, then hold them in place with one hand while inserting the middle battery with the other; then hold them in place while inserting the second trio, again end ones first. Get a friend to help hold them down, if necessary!).
It's also getting through the batteries a tad faster than I'd have liked (though it could be a lot worse). Pure do sell rechargeable batteries and a charger but they cost about as much as the radio. Of course it's also possible just to get normal rechargeable Cs or just run it from the mains.
But those are pretty minor issues. Overall I'd definitely recommend the Élan highly if you're after a relatively cheap, simple to use starter DAB radio that still looks and sounds very much the business.
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