Newer cars are making it harder than ever to upgrade the in-car entertainment experience. The traditional DIN head unit is slowly disappearing, replaced by sweeping new dash designs that require serious overhauling to alter. Thankfully, systems like the Pure Highway 300Di offer a twist on the entertainment upgrade, delivering a small mountable interface that separates your new equipment from any specific dashboard compatibility requirements. Three years on since digital entered the Australian radio market, DAB+ radios are still a rarity in cars rolling out of dealerships today, and the Highway 300Di is going to give many drivers the good stuff with only a little fuss.
Looking at the main promo pics and you might think that the Highway 300Di is an off-the-shelf DAB+ transmitter for your car. That was the case with the original Pure Highway unit, but this time, looks are deceiving. The system is set apart from more basic options by an active aerial that is mounted on your car windscreen, and the brains of the system is hidden away behind the dash or glovebox. The external aerial is removable, should you be worried about vandals, and the interface unit is also detachable.
The system also offers a USB input that can be used for an iDevice, any other USB device or even just a USB stick with music.
You can use the system either by direct input into an auxiliary, if your stereo supports such input, or by tuning it in over FM transmission like you would any simple FM transmitter attached to a phone or digital music player.
The interface unit sits on a fixed bracket, but it can be adjusted quite freely to get it pointing just where you want it. The control system revolves around a large dial and four simple buttons up front, plus menu and favourites buttons on top. The two line OLED display is crisp and clear at any time of day, and the buttons are backlit for similarly comfortable use, day or night.
First and foremost, you're buying the Highway 300Di to deliver DAB+ to your car. To that end, the 300Di offers not one, but two digital tuners alongside that big active aerial. The second tuner gives a great experience while browsing for something else to tune into. Not only do DAB+ broadcasts include a data stream, showing a mixture of news and weather updates, as well as track information, but it's quite common for secondary stations to change their names to coincide with a special event broadcast. The second tuner makes sure that this information is all up to date while you explore your options, where a single tuner would only deliver a saved piece of information from the last time that station was scanned.
The Highway 300Di controls point to its smart listening features, giving you some DVR-style pause and rewind functions to enhance the radio experience. You can skip back in short jumps, or pause while chatting with a passenger or taking a call. The pause feature also lets you hit pause while switching off the car, so you can come back and pick up right where you left off. The buffer will last about eight to 15 minutes, depending on the bitrate of the station you're listening to.
The Highway 300Di also offers "Picnic" mode, which lets you run the unit and keep listening with the car switched off for up to one hour. Just wind down the windows and enjoy.