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PURE Digital Sonus-1XT review: PURE Digital Sonus-1XT

The Good Simple setup; touch-sensitive handle that can be tapped to hear time and alarm info; pleasant recorded voice rather than synthesised speech; good range of outputs; upgradeable.

The Bad Twist-and-press knob can be confusing; jerky scrolling text; cannot pause or record radio, except to a second device.

The Bottom Line The Sonus-1XT is a friendly but unobtrusive radio. The voice feedback is useful and entertaining (and customisable if the novelty wears off). The talking clock and twin alarms make it best suited for the bedroom, although it wouldn't look out of place elsewhere

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8.3 Overall

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PURE Digital's Sonus-1XT is a digital radio that talks, not just in the way that all radios talk, but also to provide information about its settings and functions. You can tap it to find out the time or use the voice prompts to tune it with your eyes closed.

The voice feedback makes the Sonus-1XT particularly suitable for anyone with a visual impairment. It also makes the radio fun to interact with, so it shouldn't be seen as a niche product. We found ourselves poking and slapping it gratuitously, just for the pleasure of listening to it speak.

Beyond the novelty of the touch-and-hear interface, the Sonus-1XT is a competent DAB radio with two alarms. It's most at home in the bedroom, where the plain styling and maple veneer enable it to blend in with modern furnishings.

Like many of PURE Digital's radios, the Sonus-1XT packs retro controls into a Scandi-modern box with a maple veneer. If it's making any kind of design statement, it's a polite one: "Excuse me, do you mind if I take up a small corner of your Ikea side table?" It's bland but well finished and seems solidly constructed.

The front panel is divided between the single speaker and a control panel with a discreet blue LCD, two knobs and 11 oval buttons. It's a mono radio, but a matching second speaker is available separately if you want to upgrade to stereo. The auxiliary speaker comes with a 3m cable so you can spread out the speakers -- something you can't do when both speakers are built in to the original unit.

Around the back you'll find a USB connector for software upgrades, an optical digital out, a stereo line out, a headphone socket and an output for the auxiliary speaker. The telescopic aerial extends to 0.7m and is detachable, enabling you to replace it with an outdoor aerial if you live in an area with a weak signal.

The Sonus-1XT is a mains-only radio and is supplied with an AC power adaptor.

To get started, simply extend the aerial, plug in the power cable and press the Standby button. A pleasant female voice says, "Welcome to the PURE Sonus-1XT with iVOX. Autotune in progress, please wait." The lady in the radio then checks the time, sets the clock, finds all the available stations and sorts them into alphabetical order. It's like having a technician come round to configure your radio, except it only takes 15-20 seconds.

Once you've adjusted the volume, you can put your feet up and start listening. To change stations, turn the tuning knob to scroll through the list. When you pause, the station name is announced, and you can select it by pressing the Tuning knob. If you forget to press, the radio keeps broadcasting the previous station. The 'twiddle first, then press to confirm' routine is common to many of the radio's functions.

Ten favourite stations can be stored using the preset buttons. The first five are stored by pressing and holding a preset button for about two seconds. For the second five, you need to press the 'up arrow' button first. Voice prompts confirm your actions and provide advice.

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