The Pure Digital Avanti Flow is more than just an iPod speaker dock and at £270 though it has to be. The Avanti flow combines DAB digital radio, media streaming service and Internet radio in one low-slung and compact package.
Construction is especially robust: the unit is clearly well manufactured and built to last. Though the Avanti Flow comes with adaptors for most of the more recent iPods there’s no iPhone adaptor, which seems a bit strange. You can still attach one to the docking connector it just won’t sit as neatly on the top.
The Flow is a bit of an odd shape in that it's not all that tall but it is quite deep. The curved front houses the LCD screen and speakers. There’s a downwards-firing subwoofer on the base of the device to add some depth to the audio. The unit weighs much more than you might imagine.
The shiny black finish does add a touch of class though it is prone to showing off smudged fingerprints. The design is functional rather than daring and some might find its styling a touch retro. The LCD screen can be programmed to show all sorts of information in most of the listening modes and navigating through the menu options is simple enough.
The remote control is RF rather than infrared so you can use it without having to point it at the Avanti Flow but it is a touch slow to respond. We found it all too easy to skip two or three tracks at a time thinking that the remote hadn't registered.
Setup is a fairly easy process with the built-in Wi-Fi connecting to our network first time with no hassle. Entering passwords with the remote is a bit fiddly, especially with the short delay after pressing the relevant button, but you’re only likely to do this once in a while. Once the Avanti Flow was connected to the Internet it updated itself and was ready to go. The whole process took about 10 minutes.
Navigating and tuning DAB stations is a breeze but the shear number of Internet options available makes it a touch more difficult to find online radio content. Stations are listed in alphabetical order and unless you know your KDAX from you KPTY you’re in for a long case of trial and error. You can search for stations by name, genre, country, language and quality but again this can still leave you with a lot of chaff to navigate.
Pure’s solution to this problem is the Pure Lounge, an online service where you can add favourite internet stations, listen again and podcasts from the comfort of a web browser on your PC rather than the LCD screen on the Avanti Flow. The Pure Lounge then syncs with the Avanti Flow making it easier to get to your preferred stations. It’s not an ideal solution but it works.
Once you've found your content the Avanti Flow really comes into its own. The quality of the output really is exceptional. This is no bandwagon iPod speaker dock, plenty of thought and engineering has clearly gone in to the Flow, as the sound it produces is great. Even with speakers that are very close together, music of all kinds is well handled.
The large sub makes the most of rap and RnB bass lines but it’s still subtle enough not to muddy delicate classical compositions. Speech is a real strong point of the Avanti Flow and if you’re an audio book aficionado or prefer the likes of Radio 4 the Flow won’t disappoint.
There’s no escaping the fact that the Avanti Flow is an expensive bit of kit and it’s not without its failings but the audio output alone is worth the cash. The Internet radio search is a touch inelegant and we’ve seen better remotes so it’s not all roses, but once you’ve heard it in action those issues become less of a problem.
Probably more for the audio enthusiast than a simple iPod dock solution, however, it could quite conceivably replace a much bulkier hi-fi system and give better audio quality.