Pure Digital FlowSongs, new radios and Sensia update

Friday, August 13th, 2010

Over the last month or so, Pure Digital have been busy.  They’ve launched two new radios, updated the PURE Sensia software, and have now released a new service, Pure FlowSongs, which is a very interesting (and nicely integrated) service for some of their Internet radios…

Firstly, the Pure One Mi (pronounced Me), only costs £34.99, and includes DAB and FM radio, a clear digital display, 16 presets, multi-lingual menus and a USB socket for future updates, and is one of the more compact models they have ever produced.

They’ve also release the Pure Oasis Flow, a weatherproof and splash resistant, rechargeable internet-connected digital radio, costing £169.99, which features DAB and FM radio (as well as the internet radio via Wi-Fi), and should work for up to 15 hours on DAB.  It also supports the new Pure FlowSongs, covered below.

The PURE Sensia update is interesting.  When the radio first launched, I wondered how many additional plugins we would see over time for this device, and whether Pure would be able to continue to support it with new features.  Well, last month, Pure added Picasa support to the Twitter, Facebook and Weather applications already available.  This allows you to login to your online Picasa account and view a slideshow of your online pictures, either in the smaller visual panel, or full screen.  Some photo information can be overlaid on the picture, and you can change the timing of the slideshow, as well as pause it.

However, the most interesting item is Pure FlowSongs, which was announced this week.  This is only available in the UK (as a public beta), and is supported on the following radios:

PURE Sensia, PURE EVOKE Flow, PURE AVANTI Flow, Pure Oasis Flow and PURE Siesta Flow

The new software to support Pure FlowSongs will be released on Monday (16th August) and will allow you to identify, and then purchase any song you hear on the radio.  Importantly, you can be listening to the DAB radio, FM radio, or an Internet radio station (the software is limited to the internet-connected radios due to what happens next, not that the radio source needs to be internet based); the radio will then use a Shazam service (well known for their mobile application to detect what music is being played) to identify the song.  In the case of the PURE Sensia, there is an addition button on the screen (see below) whereas other radios will need a button combination to be pressed.

If you want to use the service, your radio needs to be registered at the Pure Lounge, and you’ll need to provide a credit or debit card to topup your online account, but then you’ll get a free 90 day trial of the identification service (normally £2.99 a year), and if you decide to purchase a song, they will cost an additional 79p to £1.29, and this uses the 7Digital music service.  The purchasing function on the device will be protected by a 4 digit PIN for security.

Once purchased, the song can then be downloaded (as an mp3) to your PC or Mac, but it will also be located within your Lounge account, allowing you to stream the song to your radio too.  Pure Digital also state the songs can be uploaded to an iPod, and have stated the mp3 files are DRM-free, allowing them to be played back on any mp3 device.  When you stream, the mp3 will be 128kbps, but the downloaded files will be up to 320kbps.

The integration of the Shazam service to allow you to identify any music being played is a very powerful extra facility for these radios; over the last year I’ve been impressed with both Pure Digital and Revo for adding support for Last.fm into some of their devices, and I think this ability to identify and even purchase songs adds even more to the experience.  Even better, although not yet available as part of the beta, Pure Digital are looking to enable you to buy whole albums using this method, which is likely to work out better value.


New 3UK MiFi unit

Friday, June 11th, 2010

Here’s the new 3UK MiFi (v2) that was launched last night.  The device features a number of minor updates on the previous unit, and really does address many of the issues and concerns that have been raised against the original unit.  In particular:

  • The device now turns on, powers on all radios, and auto-connects to 3UK, instead of needing 3 button presses.
  • The device now features an OLED screen, with information on data usage (from that session), WiFi status (including number of connected clients), SMS messages.  When the screen turns off, the green power light on the power button still lit for immediate visibility of the fact the device is turned on.
  • The management is now all performed from a web browser interface (the old Windows management tool which only worked when connected via a cable is no more); this means Mac, Linux, iPad / iPhone support is all there and working out the box.  This also now allows access to the microSD card reader from all devices.
  • 3UK / Huawei have improved the battery life of the device, but due to the screen needing more power than 4 lights it has roughly the same usage time, although battery charging has been reduced by around 20%.
  • Also, you can use it whilst charging (as opposed to the old unit), and 3UK have moved from miniUSB to microUSB in line with most (but not all) mobile phone manufacturers.
  • In terms of the new device, it will go on sale on 2 July for the same price as the current unit.  As stocks of the old unit run out, the In Car MiFi and iPod Touch bundles will update to the new unit too.

For existing users of the current device, there are no upgrade plans, although you can simply buy the device on PAYG and move your current SIM across to the new unit. One thing though; 3UK are considering releasing a firmware update for the current device which would enable the 1 button startup (ie basically it turns on the auto-connect feature).  Experiments with this though have indicated this may reduce battery life a little.

Overall, this device has resolved the concerns of the old unit, is styled more in keeping with tech nowadays, and is well worth considering.

Finally, thanks to @3MobileBuzz for arranging the event, and even providing cupcakes…


The return of 3UK’s 15GB MBB deals

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

3 logo

INQ £15 Texter 18month contract

A while ago, 3UK dropped their 15GB per month contract tariffs for Mobile Broadband.  Well, if you felt that 5GB per month was not enough, then we’re pleased to let you know that the 15GB per month deals are available again on the 3Store.  In fact it seems for many options, the 15GB per month replaces the 5GB per month option at the same price, so this is even better value than before! It should be available for Mobile Broadband, 3UK MiFi and laptop deals (and even the 3UK iPod Touch Bundle), although as with many things 3UK -related, you are likely to find these are all 24-month contracts, and not the more traditional 18-month ones.


Novatel MiFi update

Monday, April 26th, 2010

Novatel Mifi 2352

Well, I’ve been using the Novatel 2352 MiFi device for a few months now, and the most important thing that I can say about it is that it remains one of the first things that I look for when going away travelling (whether personal or business); in fact, using it with a PAYG SIM ready for whenever needed has proved very useful over the time I have had the device for review.  I’ll write up my full findings soon, but this is a device well worth considering.

Of course, it’s about the function of the device as much as the particular device; so things like the 3UK MiFi (which is available for a lot less on PAYG) shouldn’t be discounted.  In fact, you could even buy the 3UK MiFi and iPod Touch bundle for less than you can buy the Novatel device SIM-free (of course, SIM free offers other benefits).

As I’ve said before (see here), the web interface management of the Novatel 2352 makes it easier to use than the 3UK MiFi (although I do have access to information on how to enable the web interface on the 3UK MiFi, as it was apparently disabled in the 3UK-specific firmware), and the need to only press one button for everything to turn on and setup can’t be discounted either, but at roughly 3 times the price, it’s more difficult to justify the purchase of the Novatel 2352.

Of course, the 3UK MiFi is tied to 3UK; if you were looking for a device on, say, Vodafone, you would have to plump for the Novatel 2352; or would you? I’m hearing a rumour that next month Vodafone will be launching a PAYG MiFi type device for sale through their website and stores; whether this will be the Novatel 2352 or not isn’t clear (Vodafone already sell the Novatel in other countries though), and whether the price will be more inline with the 3UK MiFi I also don’t know, but it does look like there will soon be competition in the MiFi world…


3UK release new MiFi bundle

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

3UK MiFi In Car Wi-Fi

3UK have announced an updated bundle for their 3UK MiFi, called the In Car Wi-Fi.  As well as the device itself, and 1GB of data allowance (valid for 30 days), they have included a mains charger (as before), but now a car charger and also a windscreen suction mount, and all for £59.99.  In comparison, normally you would pay £69.99 for just the device, although with 3GB worth of data valid for 3 months.

Suddenly providing Internet access for Sony PSP / Nintendo DS / iPod Touch devices whilst travelling has just got a lot easier, and with the ability to share the internet with multiple devices, this does seem a nice offer; especially with a car charger to keep the device working even on long trips.

This new bundle is not yet available online, but I’m sure it will be soon.


Kindle for iPhone now available

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

Kindle on iPhone

For those who have bought an Amazon Kindle and were hoping to use the Kindle for iPhone application to additionally read their eBooks, we can announce that Amazon have finally released the iPhone / iPod Touch application for the International market (60 countries, including the UK), and it’s now available to download from the Apple iTunes Store.


Truphone updates

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

Truphone iPhone v3

I met up with James Body of Truphone last night, and had a nice long chat about where Truphone and other companies are going in the next few months.  However, the exciting solution is the Truphone Local Anywhere solution, that I’ve talked about before, should launch early next year.  Because Truphone are supplying the SIM which talks to their infrastructure backend, it allows them to provide some nice features you won’t see on other solutions…

When they launch, they will have support for UK and US, but not just will you be able to roam to the US at nice low rates, but on that single SIM, Truphone are able to provision you both a UK phone number and a US phone number (in fact, they will over time be able to provide multiple different country phone numbers on that single SIM).  This is the cool bit; irrespective of where you are located, the SIM will work the same way…

  • If someone in the UK rings your UK number, they will reach you
  • If someone in the US rings your US number, they will reach you
  • There will be clever CLI management functions to allow you some control over the Caller ID presented to your callers as well.

Basically, the person you call doesn’t need to know you are roaming, doesn’t need to know which country you are in, and can also reach you on what is (to them) a local number.  Because your outbound call is being routed through Truphone, the call cost to you is lower than normal roaming rates too.

The benefits of this are items such as:

  • The convenience of a single SIM with local mobile numbers in multiple countries
  • The ability to transfer their current mobile number to Truphone
  • Great value domestic calls, SMS, and data in their home country
  • Low cost international calling to the world from their home country
  • Significant call savings, when visiting other countries
  • The feeling of being local, wherever they go

This is powerful.  For those regular international travellers or even international businessmen, this is a well designed solution.  As we mentioned earlier this year when we first covered Truphone Local Anywhere, data will also be available as part of this solution.

James was sporting (amongst many other handsets) an iPod Touch and a 3UK MiFi (which are being bundled together by 3UK; see here), and was having no problems with utilising the iPod Touch for VOIP calls over 3UK‘s network.  In fact, a solution like Truphone on an iPod Touch, or Skype on an INQ Mini 3G may well suit many families to allow easy and cheap communications between everyone without needing lengthy phone contracts (calls to other Truphone users, like Skype, are free of call costs).

As Truphone have pointed out here, using an iPod Touch over WiFi with the 3UK MiFi allows apps such as Truphone and BBC iPlayer to work as the iPod Touch sees a WiFi connection and is not aware that the traffic will then pass onto a 3G network.  The same trick can be used with the iPhone as well, of course.

Thanks to James to taking time to talk through this and many other matters last night, and here at UK Gadgeteer we look forward to some of the other Truphone developments during 2010.

Update: When first published, this story had a number of technical inaccuracies which have now been addressed; apologies and thanks to Truphone for the corrections.  For more information on Truphone Local Anywhere, head to the Truphone website, or look at this PDF presentation giving the details of the new service.


iPod Nano offers iTunes tagging in London

Monday, November 30th, 2009

iPod Nano Silver

Absolute Radio (105.8FM, also available online and via DAB) have released an interesting feature which works on the iPod Nano.  It’s called iTunes tagging, and it works like this; you tune your latest generatino iPod Nano into Absolute Radio and listen to their songs.  Should one of the songs catch your attention, you can tag it, and then when you dock your iPod, you’ll be able to see who the song was by, what is was called, and you will even be able to buy and download the song from iTunes.

This is a nice level of integration between the non-connected iPod Nano and the well-connected iTunes PC, and could prove a nice feature for many people.

Absolute Radio have more information on this service, including a video on their website here.


3UK launch MiFi / iPod Touch bundle

Friday, November 27th, 2009

3UK Mobile Wi-Fi Device (MiFi)

When we reviewed the 3UK Mobile Wi-Fi unit (MiFi) here, we said it allowed devices such as the iPod Touch to gain extra facilities by being connected to the Internet whilst mobile.  Well, it looks like 3UK agreed, as they have just announced a bundle deal whereby you can get a 3UK MiFi on a 24 month contract for £23 per month, but for that, as well as the 5GB of data each month, you’ll also get an iPod Touch.

Now, the MiFi would normally be £17 per month (18 month contract), so ignoring the extra tie in period, it’s an extra £6 per month for 24 months, which is, to be fair, £144, so although the exact spec of the iPod Touch hasn’t been announced yet, it’s not an unreasonable sum for the device (it’s certainly not massively overcharging for the device).

Details should appear on the 3Store at some point next week, but maybe this might be worth it as a Christmas present for someone special…?

Update: This deal is now available in the 3Store, and features an iPod Touch 8GB along with the 3 MiFi and 5GB of data per month (24 month contract).  It even throws in 80 free text messages per month, although I’m unsure how these can be used from the iPod Touch


Another Touchscreen DAB radio

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Roberts Colourstream

This is the new Roberts ColourStream radio, which is yet to be formally announced or released by Roberts, but at least one website already has the item with specifications, so we can reproduce them here.

As well as being a DAB and FM radio, it features an iPod Dock (possibly only supporting the iPhone in offline mode), but also sporting a 3.5″ colour touch screen for many of the controls. In other respects, it seems to offer a similar feature set to that of the Roberts STREAM 83i (USB media playback, Internet radio).  It can make use of the BBC Listen Again function, has an AUX in socket, as well as Line OUT and Headphone sockets.

Until more details are released, it’s not clear if this unit will also play last.fm radio (as the Roberts STREAM 83i does), so we’ll update you when we get more information.

However, with a price of £400, I think many will prefer the styling of either the Revo IKON (see here) or the PURE Sensia (see here), and personally, we would head to the Revo IKON.

Also, we note that both this device and the Roberts STREAM 83i we covered last week (here) may not have DAB+ support (thanks to Paul Webster at his DABDig website for drawing our attention to this point), which may limit it’s usefulness in the future, should the UK ever decide to adopt this standard (other European countries are already rolling out DAB+, so lack of support may impact your ability to use either radio whilst travelling).

Specs courtesy of DNA Car Audio (via Paul’s DABDig website).