Whether it's the shape or the screen you notice first, there's no denying the PURE Digital Sensia is an eye-catching piece of kit. This £250 radio tunes to FM, DAB and Internet stations, and streams MP3s from your PC. The most beguiling feature, though, is the 145mm (5.7-inch) VGA touchscreen, which is as easy -- and fun -- to use as an iPhone. It's available now from online retailers in a range of colours.
Tackling the design
The Sensia is a radio you just want to touch. For starters, it's shaped like a fat rugby ball, which if you've invested in the optional battery pack lends itself to being tucked under your arm and taken from room to room. When in use, it sits on a shallow cupped stand, which lets you tilt it to whichever angle is best for tapping the menus on the 640x480-pixel colour display. Despite not being fixed, it holds it well, and it doesn't tip away from you as you prod.
Apart from the remote and power button, this display is the only control. It's split into logical sections for scrolling through station names -- like entries in an iPhone address book -- and, to the side, accessing downloaded applications. At the moment these extend only to weather, Twitter and gallery apps, but PURE Digital has plans for others, and to release a software-development kit for third-party coders. All applications are hosted on PURE's own servers, and are free to use.
Twitter integration is an interesting curiosity, which allows you to keep up with friends or post tweets about programmes as they unfold, but for our money the weather application is the main draw, supplementing the news and travel of a radio show with truly useful graphical information.
Stations can also make use of the screen to display their own slideshows. These are downloaded over your Wi-Fi connection rather than the DAB multiplex, and for those that don't produce their own slideshows, the Sensia displays a default image deck provided by PURE. At the moment, that deck consists of adverts for the company's other products.
Making radio even simpler
The screen's biggest benefit, though, is the simple ease of use it lends to the set. This is obvious from the moment you open the box, as it greatly eases the process of connecting the Sensia to your Wi-Fi network. Having a proper on-screen keyboard through which to enter your encryption key is a huge time saver over the tedious twist-and-push dial entry of the or the long-winded up and down arrow tapping of the .