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PURE Digital Chronos II review: PURE Digital Chronos II

PURE Digital's Chronos II is an excellent DAB radio and alarm clock. Its looks maybe simple, but it's very easy to use and a doddle to set up too. Sound quality is good and you should have no problem picking up the major DAB stations in your area

Nate Lanxon Special to CNET News
3 min read

PURE Digital's original Chronos scored an impressive eight out of 10 back in 2006. It's now late 2007 and we have its successor: the Chronos II. PURE has always impressed us with its designs and straightforward functionality and so our expectations were suitably high.


PURE Digital Chronos II

The Good

Design; price; easy to use; clear screen; easy setup.

The Bad

No battery operated option.

The Bottom Line

An affordable bedside DAB radio that even technophobes won't struggle to use. It's well designed and the addition of an FM tuner is a big plus. If it only had a battery-operated option it'd score even higher

The original Chronos still sells for around £50, while its new sibling hovers around the £70 mark. Is there really any reason to pay an extra £20 for this new bedside contender?

From breaking open the box, to its easy setup, the new Chronos screams simplicity. The clearly labelled buttons sit on top of the simple triangular design -- the build quality of which is excellent. One of the most notable differences between this and the original Chronos, is that this new model also features FM radio. One of our biggest problems with the original was that it was impossible to fall back on FM transmissions if DAB gave up the ghost or simply wasn't available.

It takes about a minute for the system to automatically seek and store available DAB stations, but this only needs doing once. Stations are sorted in alphabetical order and can be browsed easily -- Grandma will be pleased. The two-line display has an adjustable brightness (which can be automated if needed) and scrolls broadcast information clearly. There are no messy icons and nothing cluttering the screen, though information about such things as signal strength can be accessed using the 'Info' button, if required.

DAB isn't without its flaws, but when utilised in a system like this it makes digital life extremely painless, even for technophobes. We picked up all the major DAB stations in our area without too many issues and FM performed well too. Plus, you can save ten FM and ten DAB presets.

Sound quality's top notch for the most part. It's only a single-speaker design, so don't be expecting full-blown stereo sound. But for a bedside radio you'll be very happy -- it's not as if even the hardened audiophile cares about pristine audio quality when he's reaching for the snooze button at 7am. Up to four alarms can be scheduled at once, each configurable to use either one of the 20 station presets or the classic ascending beep.

Every DAB radio relies on decent signal to perform well. Unlike FM, which can still perform acceptably when signal dips, DAB does not, and the Chronos II is no exception. The attached wire aerial is decent enough when your signal is in excess of 80 per cent, but if it drops below 70 per cent you'll struggle to avoid feeling pangs of annoyance as the watery sound of a weak DAB signal crushes a Chris Moyles witticism.

We asked Santa for a battery compartment when he brought us the new Chronos this year, but it transpires we've been bad boys and girls. PURE has impressed in almost every respect, but the lack of a battery option is a big disappointment.

For a smidge under £70 this is a superb bedside radio. It's attractive, easy to use and sounds good. While a battery-operated option would've been handy, it's still a functional and fairly priced radio.

We'd be very confident giving this as a gift even to an elderly relative -- the painless controls and great DAB functionality make the Chronos II ideal for all ages. It's a great follow up to an excellent product and well worth the extra twenty quid.

Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Jon Squire