Pure Avalon 300R takes on YouView with Freeview, iPlayer

Pure's Avalon 300R set-top box has a neat interface and some nifty features, but doesn't offer enough to outdo YouView.

Pure might be better known for its range of digital radios but it's turning its attention to the set-top box market and going after Lord Sugar's YouView. The Avalon 300R is a set-top box that gives you access to to all the Freeview channels, as well as BBC's iPlayer and YouTube.

The 300R isn't the first box of its kind to market, but Pure is hoping that its attractive interface will be enough to make you want to splash your cash. I went hands-on with the box at an unveiling event and it certainly seemed perfectly pleasant to flick around.

The main home screen is made up of large, floating tiles for you to flick through and select the service you want. The tiles are all very easy to read and the interface seemed responsive, so if you've arrived home late then the box shouldn't slow you down in catching the last few minutes of Emmerdale.

Pure avalon homescreen

Along with subscription-free access to the 50 or so Freeview channels and four HD channels, the 300R also brings some on-demand content to the screen in the form of BBC iPlayer. While that's a handy addition, it's not offering as much extra content as YouView which provides the same access to Freeview channels as well as BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4oD and Demand 5.

Another downside for Pure is that the on-demand channels are housed in a separate section to the Freeview TV channels, meaning you have to go back to the homescreen each time you want to switch between live TV and on-demand. For a long time that was standard practice, but YouView managed to seamlessly weave on-demand channels into the standard programme guide, letting you look through the past, present and future telly on the same screen.

Pure avalon on-demand

The 300R does however let you access worldwide Internet radio as well as on-demand radio channels and podcasts using the Pure Connect service. Pure has built its entire name around providing high quality Internet and DAB radios so it's unsurprising to see these features built in and any of you who love your Pure radios in your kitchen will no doubt appreciate this functionality in your TV.

The box comes with either a 500GB or 1TB hard drive for recording programmes to watch back later via the 'Recordings' channel on the home screen. It also offers four HDMI inputs so you can hook up your games consoles and Blu-ray player and even give the inputs individual names on the Pure interface so you can easily switch between them.

It also packs in two tuners so you can record one channel while watching another. It means that when you're browsing through the on-screen guide while watching one programme, you can see a picture-in-picture preview of the shows you're browsing through.

Pure avalon picture-in-picture

At £300 for the 500GB model (or £350 for the 1TB) it's the same price as the YouView box, but while the Avalon 300R's interface is certainly attractive and easy to navigate, it doesn't seem to offer enough to be a proper rival to the likes of YouView. Companies like Sky and TalkTalk have started offering the YouView box for free on a new contract and without this same backing, it's difficult to imagine Pure's offering being taken up by many British TV lovers.

The box is available to preorder this week from John Lewis.

What do you make of Pure's set-top box? Are you enticed by the simple interface or put off by the lack of on-demand options? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below or over on our Facebook page.

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About the author

Andrew is a senior editor at CNET and has always been fascinated by tech. When not getting up close and personal with the latest phones, he can normally be found with his camera in hand, behind his drums or eating his stash of home-cooked food. Sometimes all at once.

 

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