We've seen an impressive number of quality Wi-Fi radio devices lately, but the reason the Pure Oasis Flow excited us was its portability. The Oasis Flow packs in a rechargeable battery and is weatherproof.
While we enjoyed having the luxury of a portable and weatherproof Internet and FM radio, the Oasis Flow does suffer from a few shortcomings. It depends on the user whether these demerits are deal breakers.
It's probably best to compare the Oasis Flow with two of our favorite Internet radio devices, the Logitech Squeezebox and Livio Radio, but it's definitely worth mentioning that these devices are significantly cheaper than the Oasis Flow.
The Oasis Flow is a compact yet heavy Wi-Fi and FM radio that boasts a weatherproof design and rechargeable battery. It measures about 8.5 by 6 by 5.5 inches but weighs nearly 5 pounds. It has a tough, hard plastic gray frame with glossy white panels. The Flow also has a really convenient handle built into the top of the case.
Up front is a very nice OLED touch-screen display with bright yellow text that can be read in any light. Below it, and above the speaker, are two adjustment knobs and a power button.
On the right side are the Oasis Flow's connectivity ports, a headphone jack, auxiliary in, USB port, and 12V DC charging apparatus. Don't get too excited about the USB port; it's only used for an Ethernet adapter, which is sold separately.
We'd be lying if we said entering text on the Oasis Flow is quick. It's not; as with all devices of this type, manual text entry is definitely cumbersome. That said, the OLED touch screen does make it easier to cycle through submenus, so we're wondering why an onscreen keyboard isn't an option.
The Oasis Flow can be used on a local network with media servers or a NAS device. Again, information entry is tedious, but we were able to get music to play off our Synology NAS after some slight tweaking. We can't guarantee compatibility with all media servers and NAS devices, though.
We also found that charging the Oasis Flow's battery was not as easy as we imagined it would be. Leaving it plugged in overnight didn't seem to fill it up completely, as the next day the battery icon was only half full. This may be a bug within the system's firmware, though, because the Flow seemed to last its advertised 10 hours with the icon stuck at half capacity. Luckily, the firmware can be upgraded, and it only takes about 2 minutes.
One of the best and most distinctive features of the Flow is its ability to sync up with Pure's The Lounge, a service that connects to various Internet radio stations. A one-time registration is required, and then once synced the Oasis Flow can share saved playlists and favorite stations. It certainly beats searching manually on the Flow, so we'd definitely recommend using The Lounge. We were a bit disappointed, though, that we couldn't find some of our own CNET podcasts, like "The 404."
In terms of sound quality, the Oasis Flow is just average. The sound seems to suffer from an overall flatness and lack of oomph. That said, as totally portable speakers go it will probably get the job done. We imagine it'd be a great companion at the beach or on the golf course, though Wi-Fi is hard to come by in places like these.
In addition to being usable in conjunction with The Lounge, a media player, or an auxiliary device, the Oasis Flow is also a standard FM radio with clock and alarm functionality. While we have no problems with the clock, the FM radio definitely needs improvement. Reception is fine, it's just that tuning is painfully slow. Plus, the presets use radio text for labels. So instead of labeling New York's rock station as WRXP 101.9 FM, the Flow used whatever song was playing, such as "Soul to Squeeze" by Red Hot Chili Peppers--which makes labeling playlists useless. We can only assume this will be addressed in a future firmware update.
We also found a few disappointing bugs when we powered down the Flow. Occasionally the device would forget everything we had programmed, causing us to have to start from scratch. Other times it would forget the time and SSID information. It happened often enough that we were not impressed with its reliability in that department.
It's tough to judge a device's claim of being weatherproof without actually going out in the rain and using it. Luckily enough, it's been pretty wet here in New York these past few days, and we're happy to report that the Oasis Flow survived several thunderstorms without missing a beat. Why anyone would be out in the rain with a radio is beyond us, but if you're looking for a radio that can handle it, the Flow appears to be up to the task.
Comparing the Flow with the Livio and Squeezebox, the Flow falls short in terms of organization and ease of use. The Squeezebox also comes out on top thanks to the broad range of services it's compatible with and the fact that it's available for as little as $170 online.
We didn't rate the Livio as highly as the Logitech Squeezebox, but it's certainly a good and cheaper alternative, coming in at just $130 online. It's also available in an NPR model that we enjoyed as well.
At the end of the day, we can only really recommend the $250 Pure Oasis Flow to those who absolutely need a portable radio device. For that purpose, the Flow does a good job; we just think in all other areas there are better products available.