DAB specialist Pure has given its popular Evoke Mio radio a makeover, and while rival brand Roberts Radio has previously collaborated with design guru Cath Kidston, Pure has teamed up with world-renowned designer Orla Kiely. Featuring the design expert's trademark stem print, the radio looks pretty as a picture and is sure to be a big seller in the run-up to Christmas, but is it any good? We put it through its paces to find out...
Obviously the first thing that you notice about the radio is its stunning good looks. Along with Kiely's iconic multi-coloured print on a cream background, there's also a stylish mirrored chrome carry handle, a walnut-veneered chassis and a cream-coloured plastic fascia. As the pattern extends all the way round the back of the radio it can be placed anywhere in the room and doesn't have to be shoved against a wall to disguise an unsightly rear panel. There's even a chrome panel on the back reading "Evoke Mio by Orla Kiely", just in case any of your non-design-savvy mates are wondering why your new radio is plastered in pictures of coloured leaves.
The radio carries out an automatic station scan as soon as you turn it on, so there's really no set-up needed at all. As with most of Pure's radios, you can use the tuning dial to search through the available stations and select them by pressing the dial in. The OLED panel is bright and clear, making the text very easy to read. You can set the screen's brightness to adjust automatically according to the surrounding light conditions, or you can tweak it manually. Next to the tuning knob you'll find the volume dial, which clicks as you turn it, to increase or decrease the volume level. When you do this, a handy bar-based graphic is displayed on the screen so that you know whereabouts you are within the radio's volume capabilities. The radio also includes a handy feature whereby you can mute the volume by pressing the dial inwards.
In terms of connections, there are no surprises here. The radio sports an auxiliary input for hooking up an iPod or MP3 player, along with a stereo out for hooking it up to an external amplifier and a headphone socket. There's also a Mini-B type USB connector for online upgrades. If you don't want a pesky power lead messing up the aesthetics or you simply want to be able to move the radio around, you can get yourself one of Pure's optional ChargePAKs (around £30). This slots neatly into the underside of the radio and offers up to 24 hours of listening between charges. To fit the ChargePAK, you simply unlock the plastic panel on the underside of the radio, slide the battery pack in and connect the plug to the corresponding socket. It really is a handy feature if you don't want to be limited by wires when it comes to finding the best spot for your radio, and we found that the ChargePAK certainly lived up to its claims of a 24-hour battery life.
There's a small selection of rudimentary function buttons on the fascia that are clearly labelled and responsive to touch. The Source button enables you to switch between DAB, auxiliary input and FM radio. The inclusion of an FM tuner is particularly handy if the DAB reception in your area is a bit sketchy. Next to the Source control, you'll find the Info button which dictates what is displayed on the screen. You can choose between scrolling text, which tells you what's playing, or you can opt to display the time, the signal quality (in per cent), the signal strength or ChargePAK status. You'll also find buttons for Standby, the Timer and Menu, along with buttons numbered 1-6 for fast access to your presets (you can store up to 30).
The radio includes Pure's textScan function which can be used to pause the scrolling information text, simply by pressing the tuning dial in. You can then scroll backwards and forwards through the text, which is very handy if you missed something or if you're just a bit of a slow reader. Pushing the dial in again exits this mode. You can also make use of Pure's Intellitext feature, which is accessed using the Menu button. This enables you to look-up data from participating radio stations. It's probably not the best feature and one that you may well end up ignoring after trying it out once, as you have to go through several menu screens to get there, but it can be handy for breaking news, sports results and weather.
As part of Pure's EcoPlus range, the radio has some impressive environmental credentials and has already been given a recommendation by the Energy Saving Trust. The Energy Saving mode updates the Intellitext data only when you tune into a participating station, rather than collecting it during standby, leading to reduced power consumption. However, if your Intellitext updates are more important to you than the plight of the planet (not to mention your electricity bill) then you can switch the energy saving mode off. If you're powering the radio with a ChargePAK then the radio will switch off when you press the Standby button rather than entering standby, as long as it's not connected to the mains power.
Last, but not least, the radio also has several different timer functions so that you can use it as an alarm clock to wake up to your favourite station. You can set it to go off daily, or just on week days, or just weekends (or a mixture of the latter two). You can also use it as a kitchen timer or set the sleep timer, so that the radio switches into standby after a certain number of minutes has elapsed.
With its chic designer finish, Pure's latest radio might look a bit too girly for some, but that doesn't stop if from being a great product. Along with the classy looks, we were impressed with the sound quality as well as how easy it it to use. Just make sure you check the DAB coverage in your area before parting with any cash.
The Pure Evoke Mio by Orla Kiely will be on sale exclusively at John Lewis from early November and at independent retailers from March 2011.