"I want a digital radio" my brother squawked, lining up his choice of Christmas presents, circa 1982. Of course, he wasn’t talking about DAB, he meant an alarm clock with a large LCD time display. Which is basically what the Pure-Fi Anytime is.
Yes, there is that ominous iPod dock that takes pride of place in the centre of the device: it even supports the iPhone. But, like my brother’s Christmas present that year, it doesn’t do DAB, sticking strictly to AM and FM radio, which we feel lets the side down a bit.
Sitting either side of that central iPod dock are the two forward-facing speakers and around the back you’ll find two corresponding bass ports to boost deeper tones. Encased in glossy black plastic, the unit is rhomboidal in shape, so pretty much fits with your expectation for a bedside device. The weight and footprint of the Anytime combined with the rubber pads on the base mean it is not going to go scooting of your bedside table when you give it a swift poke in the morning.
Besides the headline iPod and iPhone dock, you get the FM and AM radios already mentioned and wire aerials are included. You also get an auxiliary 3.5mm jack so you can hook up any other device of your choice to take advantage of the speakers.
Ranged across the top of the unit are all the controls, giving you distinct buttons for most functions, including a surprisingly small power button. The larger buttons are given over to volume and the snooze function for the alarm and take pride of place at the front so are convenient to locate. On the left side you then get a brightness adjuster (three settings), time set button, the on/off, input selection, whilst the right leaves you with separate buttons for the two alarms, three radio presets and track skip/scan.
When setting the alarms you also get to select the input (except the aux for obvious reasons). From an iPod point of view it will just wake up and start playing, so you need to leave it on the track you want to wake up to. The alarm also gives you the option of the traditional “buzz” - that ghastly noise that you really don’t want to wake up to. It has a soft start, so the volume increases the longer you leave it, to a point, which is supposed to bring you from your slumbers without too much of a shock. We felt this crescendo happened too quickly and would be better if it was just a little more gentle.
The snooze feature gives you the regular snooze from the alarm, but will also act as a sleep function, turning the unit off after a length of time of your choosing. It also features motion sensing which delivers two functions. The first is that a wave of the hand illuminates the orange-backlit controls on the top (which are otherwise dimmed) so you can navigate them in the dark, or not waste energy on illumination, depending on how you look at it.
The second function of the motion sensor is snooze when your alarm goes off. All you have to do is waft a hand over the top and it shuts up, for a while, at least.
There is also a small remote control which has a convenient slot on the back for safe storage (hurrah!) so it won’t get lost amongst keys, mobile phones and other bedside clutter. The remote replicates the button functions, however we found that it is not the most responsive of units so you need to be fairly close and aiming at the right place to get a result.
There is also no play button on the Anytime unit itself, so you’ll have to press play on the iPod to get your music. You do get a play button on the remote, but with no other options besides track skip or scan, you might feel a little short-changed. There is no menu access or anything else: that all has to be done on the iPod you have connected.
When it comes to the sound quality itself, those bass ports do make a noticeable difference so the sound overall is pretty good for a unit this size. It doesn’t compete with some of the more sophisticated docks, but it is a compact unit destined mostly for the bedroom. The volume is pretty good too, although distortion starts to creep in at a little over two-thirds of the way through the scale (depending on what you are playing).
There is also a backup battery option and the 9V cell is provided for this purpose. This means that in the case of a power cut you won’t miss your alarm, although without power you do lose the options other than buzzer - still, at least you’ll make it to work. The two separate alarm buttons is also convenient, so professional couples can have an alarm each with no faffing around, or one for the week and one for the weekend.
Certainly, as a "radio alarm clock" we have no complaints with the sound, but it won’t really fit the bill out of the bedroom, which, combined with the lack of controls for the iPod itself, means this can’t really compete with other dedicated docks. At least it means you can wake up to your favourite track and know your iPod is charged and ready for the journey to work.
You might also think the price is a little on the high side, although that is characteristic of iPod docks in general and there are iPod dock alarm clocks available for less, but the sound quality here is pretty good and the controls are simple.