Pure's Evoke-1 shaped the way digital radios looked for almost three years, and they've continued to push the design of their products, in this case enlisting celeb product guru Wayne Hemmingway to create the Bug. The Bug's "look at me" styling won’t be to everyone’s taste, but nobody could call it boring.
In either black or white plastic and metal, the Bug seems more like an extra from a Star Wars film than a radio. Think of the front end of a Porsche. Now imagine a shower hose leading from the top to a large egg. Top it all off with two eyes blinking at you from a screen. It takes a minute or two to get used to.
Built into the base are two speakers covered in rugged wire mesh. Running down the middle are four tacky silver-effect function buttons: Info, Autotune, Menu and Record. In the centre is a large navigation pad, and underneath is the Pause button.
The navigation pad feels insubstantial and occasionally doesn’t register a click properly. This is a disappointment given the quality of the rest of the unit. The head can be moved thanks to the adjustable neck that attaches it to the base, and boasts a large LCD screen with enough room for three rows of text. This is useful both for menus and for visibility from a distance. On the back of the base is a detachable 0.5 m adjustable aerial and an indented bank of other inputs and outputs, including headphones, stereo and optical out, USB connector and SD memory card slot.
Setting up the Bug is simple. Plug the power supply in and away you go.
As soon as the power is on the screen lights up and a couple of animated eyes blink at you. The Bug tells you it’s checking the time and date, and a few seconds later you’re in standby mode with the time on the screen. This is highly visible in white-on-blue and large enough to be seen from the other side of the kitchen.
Also on the standby screen are your alarm settings, a shortcut to the timed recorder, and a sleep function, perfect if this is doubling as your bedside alarm clock.
One press of the navigation pad wakes the Bug up. It automatically tunes itself as it starts up. Navigation is intuitively laid out. Nudging the pad up or down scrolls through the available stations, and a quick click of the pad confirms the change, while the volume is controlled by nudging the pad left or right.
The Bug comes with ten presets that you can access through the Info button. To save a station just hold down the button until it’s stored. Other info includes the usual scrolling text, details about the station, the time or the blinking eyes you see during start-up. Other features like the alarm clock and the timed recorder are all accessed through the Menu button.
The Bug has everything you could want from a DAB radio. It has two alarm clocks, pause, rewind, and recording (instant and on a timer) as well as the ability to play MP3s.
The alarm clock is impressive, with two separate alarm times, and the choice of a normal alarm or the radio. You can even choose for it to only wake you up on weekdays so you can lie in undisturbed on Saturday and Sunday.
The pause function is useful. One touch of the button pauses the radio and another lets you carry on from where you left off. This is what PURE calls its ‘ReVu’ mode and the real beauty is the rewind function. The Bug automatically stores the last few minutes of audio you’ve been listening to. This is perfect for catching telephone numbers, Web site addresses or trying to ‘guess the secret sound to win a grand…’ Depending on the bit rate of the station you can rewind between 5 and 10 minutes.
For recording, the best thing is to pick up an SD memory card. Once you’ve popped it into the back of the Bug, just press the button once to start, and again to stop. All recordings are in MP3 format and can be played back through the menu button. A 128MB card will hold about 2 hours of standard output, but PURE says there’s no limit to the size of card you can put in there.
We found timer recordings were simple too. Through the menu button you pick the date, time, duration and station, and that’s it. There are nine timer slots in case you’re away on holiday. If you’d rather not get an SD card, there is the option of recording to an external device like a Minidisc recorder through the optical output at the back.
There are other benefits to buying an SD card. The USB port on the Bug can connect your radio to your computer. One reason to do this is to update your Bug whenever PURE release new software for it. It means you can transfer tunes to and from the SD card, turning the Bug into an MP3 player. You can also put radio shows you’ve recorded onto your iPod. This could allow you to create a library of podcasts, or the radio equivalent of Sky Plus.
The quality of the reception is fantastic, whether in the kitchen or the bedroom. Having the aerial extended wasn't necessary except in the basement. For anyone living in areas of very bad reception the aerial is detachable, enabling you to attach the Bug to a larger antenna.
The audio quality is very good considering the size of the speakers and their fixed position on the base. For those who aren’t content with the sound there are six equaliser settings: Flat, Studio, Club, Arena, Monitor or BassBoost.
Edited by: Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by: Tom Espiner