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Review: PURE Tempus-1XT DAB radio

by Bob Crabtree on 1 July 2006, 04:22

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Unlike the last DAB model we looked at, Dualit's DAB/FM Kitchen Radio, the PURE Tempus-1XT is a finished product, not a production sample. And, it's aimed squarely at the mass-market, rather the moneyed style-conscious.

That's not to say it lacks style, merely that you're not paying a big premium to get a product designed to match your toaster and kettle in look and feel. Apart from lacking the Dualit's distinctive finish, the wood-veneered Tempus differs in two other obvious ways. It's mains-only, with no rechargeable battery and no option to use disposables; and has no FM reception - it's DAB and DAB-only.

PURE Tempus-1XT

Having no battery can be a bit of a nuisance. You can't keep on listening if you move the radio from room to room, can't take it out on the beach or on picnics and can't use it in the garden without running power to it.

The lack of FM might seem rather less important and, generally it is - in areas where DAB reception is good. However, it's not unheard of for digital reception to be okay in some rooms of a house and not others, so having an analogue alternative onboard is convenient, even if the choice of analogue stations isn't so good.

Also, and probably more important still, there are some local commercial stations that can be received on FM but not on DAB - and not all stations on LW, MW and SW are available on DAB either. So check out the DAB availability of any favourites that you absolutely must be able to listen to.

Just to make clear - PURE does sell a variety of DAB models that run on battery. Also, some of its battery models and some of its mains models do offer FM. It's just that the Tempus itself has neither feature. But if you want them, PURE can provide, so we're not going to go heavy on the Tempus for those two omissions.

Know, too, that the Tempus has some selling points of its own that Dualit - and other brands - can't match. But we'll come to those in a bit.

You don't tend to get a lot of accessories included with table-top DAB radios and the Tempus-1XT is no exception. But apart from a power lead - or in the Tempus's case, a rather large plug-mounted mains adaptor - what else could you expect?

There's no logic in including headphones or earphones that would only bump up the price unnecessarily. The same is true for the cables that you might wish to use with the Tempus - stereo analogue out, S/PDIF digital out and USB (for installing downloaded firmware updates from a PC).

PURE Tempus-1XT sockets

Of course, you get a quick-start guide and a paper manual, too. There are also brochures detailing what commercial stations are available (and where in the country); a leaflet about other PURE DAB products; and an invitation on a self-sealing postcard to buy a PURE XT-1 speaker - by cheque or plastic.

The XT-1 will let you enjoy stereo from the Tempus without using headphones or connecting to a hi-fi system and has the same cherry wood veneer as the Tempus. The radio is available in a different veneer - maple - and that version costs about £10 less, though there is no price reduction for the matching maple speaker.

The manual - A5-size and just 10 pages long - is well written and with appropriate graphics. The quick-start guide - thin cardboard and A4-size that's printed and folded to have six pages/panels - is multilingual but, unusually, no worse for that, and should have you up and running easily.

You'll get the idea of how easy things are when you learn that Step 1 shows to unclip and extend the aerial fully upright; Step 2 shows to plug in the power adaptor (to mains and the radio), switch on and wait one minute; and Step 3 shows to turn the tuning knob to move from station to station and to press the knob to select the one you want. The guide's one-third-A4-size also means that it's small enough to tuck away somewhere handy for later reference (or easily misplaced).

PURE Tempus-1XT - rear, with mains adaptor

We said a moment ago that the Tempus has some special features that other makes of radio don't. One of the most appeal is its SnoozeHandle. This does rather more than the single thing you've probably guessed - temporarily stopping the radio playing or the alarm sounding if you need a bit of extra time in bed.

Craftily, it also brings up the time, full height, on the radio's display. This is shown for about three seconds and can be called up this way not only when the radio is powered up but also when it's in standby mode. Nice. But how does it work? Well, we weren't sure and so asked the question of PURE.

PURE Tempus-1XT - Snooze Handle

This is what the product's designer said:

The snooze handle is essentially a capacitance-change sensor. It detects the change in capacitance at the metal snooze handle when you touch it and triggers a momentary action switch (as if it were a normal momentary push-button switch).

As users are alive and contain water, they are inherently capacitive – the snooze handle will detect very small changes in capacitance and convert these into a logical "button press" - which the radio's "Chorus" microcontroller interprets as an action.

The technology itself is very simple, requiring only a pseudo-square-wave generator, a diode rectifier and a transistor-current amplifier for basic operation.

So now you know.

The other PURE thing we found especially appealing - and it's featured on most of the company's DAB offerings - is the USB-update facility. It so happens that the V1.4 firmware on our review model was the latest available, so updating is something we'd probably not have dwelt on. However, we discovered a few days back that PURE really does put this feature to good use.

The company recently introduced Bug TOO - an updated version of its highly distinctive Bug DAB radio. This has a number of new features - as this HEXUS.headline explains - some of which reflect improvements made to the DAB service. At much the same time, as launching Bug TOO, PURE made available a tiny firmware download that added to the original model virtually all of the new features that had just arrived with its successor. And that was a rather nice freebie for owners of the Mk1 Bug.

PURE Tempus-1XT - retail box - front