Revo offering discounted DAB Radios this weekend

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

Revo, manufacturers of some very nice DAB radios, have a half price offer on two of their top units this weekend. To celebrate their 10th Anniversary in business, they have the Revo K2 and Revo HERITAGE with 50% off, which means the units are priced at £149.95 and £124.95 respectively. If you are considering either of these two models, now is your chance to pick them up with a massive discount.

These offers finish on Sunday. See Revo Special Offer for more details.


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Pure launch new Highway DAB Radio

Friday, November 25th, 2011

One of the first articles on the UK Gadgeteer website back in 2007 was around the PURE Highway, a portable DAB radio designed for car use.  This turned out to be a very popular device, although one small complaint about it was that it had to connect to the windscreen mount, and you had to have wires all over the dashboard (aerial & power).  Competitors, such as Revo, produced DAB addon car units which needed more permanent fitting in the car, however, Revo have now left the car market.

Well, Pure are addressing these issues and have launched a new Highway DAB radio, the Pure Highway 300Di.  This unit has a small control unit (removable, for when you want to hide the presence of the unit) using an OLED screen (and backlit buttons).  In fact, the simple display / buttons and control knob remind me of the very successful Parrot range of Bluetooth car kit control units).  This connects to a control box designed for placing behind the dash, or in the glovebox.  This needs permanent connections to the car (I suspect it’ll possible to DIY fit it, but it’s not designed for plugging into a cigaretter lighter, unlike the PURE Highway, which remains on sale for those who want a truely portable unit).

As well as providing DAB (via a DAB aerial which needs external fitting), the unit has a USB port allowing you to plug in USB memory sticks, USB devices, or you can use your Apple USB cable and the device will be able to fully control (and charge) your Apple iPod or iPhone.

Most DAB radios only have one tuner, whereas most car radios adopted the idea of dual tuners quite a few years ago; this allows the second tuner to go hunting for a stronger signal without impacting the radio playback, and in fact, the Pure Highway 300Di has a second tuner which will automatically keep the station list up to date with only the stations available as you travel around the country.

To connect it to your car, you can either use an AUX-IN type socket, or it can use an FM transmitter, either wireless using the car’s existing aerial, or it can be wired into the aerial circuit giving a crackle free experience.

In addition, Pure have added a couple of innovative new modes:

  • Forcourt mode, where the device will go into standby for up to 15 minutes, allowing you to return to your car, and the unit will already be ready for action with the same music.  In you are listening to the DAB radio, you can pause (for up to 8 minutes) and continue listening when you return to the car.
  • Picnic mode, where the device is able to continue playing the music for up to an hour after the car ignition is switched off.  The 1 hour limit is to prevent the car battery being drained, although some cars will limit you to only 15 minutes even though the unit could do longer.

For those wanting to add DAB to your existing car, and want something a little more permanent than the PURE Highway, this may well be the device for you.  Pricing will be £179.99, although it’s not yet available, it will be sold exclusively through Halfords for a period.

Having said it’s not available, I believe it should be on sale within the next week or two, and during the initial launch, Halfords will be offering free fitting (normally around £25).


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Gadget Show Live suggestions

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

I headed to a special Preview Day today at the Gadget Show Live yesterday, and can report that’s it’s going to be a good show this year.  The first year it was run I felt there were a few too many small companies selling fairly useless gadgets, but whether it’s the economy or not I don’t know, but this year there were very few useless gadgets to be seen.  Equally, two years ago everyone was selling iPhone docks, and although there were still a variety of iPad accessories, it generally felt a much more balanced show.

If you only get an hour or two to attend, my suggestions for companies to visit include:

  • LG, if only to view their ultra slim OLED TVs, which look very impressive
  • Samsung, for having a wide variety of options from TVs, home appliances and the Galaxy Tab
  • 3View, for having a Freeview PVR with a range of additional functions, such as BBC iPlayer
  • Revo, for having a decent range of good looking and quality sounding DAB radios
  • Viewsonic, for promoting their risk free ViewPad trial (which we covered here)
  • Orbitsound, for their range of impressive speakers (both portable and for your TV) using their airSOUND technology

A couple of others companies caught my attention with new gadgets, and I’ll cover those later.  I will say that although Samsung had a massive banner running the length of one of the halls advertising all 3 Android Tablets (the Tab, the new 8.9″ and the new 10.1″ tablet), they only seemed to have the original Galaxy Tab on their stand.


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Last.fm moving to subscription radio only for mobiles

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Although it’s been something that many have foreseen for some time, and of course, outside of the UK (plus US & Germany), they’ve been charging for some time, but Last.fm have now confirmed that you will need a subscription (at £3 per month) to continue to listen to Last.fm radio on many mobile and hardware devices.  The change happens on 15th February, and the list includes:

  • Google Android – free app; subscription required for radio in US, UK and Germany
  • Apple iPhone – free app; subscription required for radio in US, UK and Germany
  • Microsoft X-Box Live (also with Kinect) – App free with X-Box Live Membership in US and UK
  • Microsoft Windows Mobile 7 – Free in 2011 in US and UK; subscription required for radio in Germany
  • All Logitech Squeezebox products – subscription required in US, UK and Germany
  • All Sonos products – Free until mid-summer 2011 for US, UK and Germany; subscription required thereafter
  • Revo AXiS, Ikon, Domino, Heritage – subscription required in US, UK and Germany
  • Roberts Stream 63i, 205, Colourstream, 83i – subscription required in US
  • M3 Muvid Products – subscription required in Germany
  • Teufel Audio Raumfeld – subscription required in UK and Germany
  • Selected Onkyo AV receivers – subscription required in US, UK and Germany
  • Denon and Marantz selected AV receivers – subscription required in UK and Germany
  • To be fair to Last.fm, many of those devices we’ve covered here before (including the PURE Sensia and Revo units) have needed a subscription from the day they were launched, so the headline change has already affecting many users.  Last.fm have stated:

    “On the Last.fm website an ad-supported, free-to-listeners model is what supports our online radio services in the US, UK and Germany. In other markets and on emerging mobile and home entertainment devices, it is not practical for us to deliver an ad supported radio experience, but instead, we will migrate to what we believe is the highest quality, lowest cost ad-free music service in the world.”

    Some people are likely to stop using Last.fm at this point, however, many others will consider the charge (less than £40 for the year, and still less than other services such as Spotify) worthwhile.


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    Revo release new AXiS software

    Friday, January 21st, 2011

    Revo Technologies have released an updated firmware for their Revo AXiS Internet / DAB radio. This adds two features of note; firstly, the device now supports the DAB Slideshow feature (more information on this feature here), which allows the unit to display graphical content provided by the DAB radio station.  It also adds the ability to specify how long the backlight stays on when the unit is in standby.  With this feature, you are able to turn the screen back on by moving the volume control either way to light the screen, and then after the preset period, the backlight will turn off again.

    Revo Technologies have confirmed that they are planning a similar update for the Revo Ikon, although there is no date for release available yet.  If you have a Revo AXiS, then it should find the update automatically, and prompt you to install.

    It’s nice to see a manufacturer releasing updates for existing hardware which adds new features, instead of only incorporating these new features into new hardware.  The update was released yesterday, so should appear soon on your DAB radio. In terms of UK radio stations that support DAB slideshow, these include BBC Radio 1, Capital Radio, Heart Radio, XFM and Magic (possibly Virgin Radio Xtreme and Kiss as well), and only a handful of DAB radios support it, including the PURE Sensia and the Revo AXiS.

    Revo Technologies have also indicated there are working on 3 new models for 2011, which will be on sale in Q3 / Q4 this year.  They have also announced a limited edition “Black Oak” variant of their Revo HERITAGE radio should be available for sale at some point in the next few weeks.


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    New mobbler version in testing

    Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

    Following on from our mention of changes coming at Last.fm, the team behind mobbler are currently testing a beta version of their Last.fm client in preparation for the changes.  So, the old stations that will no longer be available are removed, and the new Mix Radio has been added.  On top of that, there are a whole range of new / improved features:

    • Fix for radio on Nokia N8/Symbian^3
    • Subscriber-only radio
    • Share on Twitter
    • Signup
    • Biography
    • Local events based on cell ID
    • Better lyrics display
    • Username limit increased from 15 -> 32 chars
    • Better equaliser support
    • Japanese, Korean, Portuguese and Ukrainian added and other languages updated
    • Old scrobbles warning
    • Play Mix Radio station
    • Play Last.fm group radio station
    • Play a custom lastfm:// radio station
    • Removed discontinued Loved Tracks and Playlists radio station
    • 20 volume steps where available (Symbian^3)
    • Display subscriber’s prestigious black icon
    • Rejigged the Start a station menu

    However, it’s worth also noting that this version comes with a warning:

    “Mobbler versions 0.10.x and 1.10.x uses the official Last.fm radio API which only allows paying subscribers to stream the radio. Non-subscribers with free accounts are allowed a 30 track free trial from Last.fm. Only paying subscribers can play the radio. Free user accounts can’t play the radio. Subscribers will see a prestigious black icon at the top left when online. If you have an S60 phone (i.e. pre-N8/Symbian^3) an older version may still stream radio until Last.fm disable it.”

    So, in essence, Last.fm are transitioning to a situation where you need to pay the subscription fee to stream any radio stations (a position already in place on the hardware devices such as the Revo IKON and PURE Sensia), so it’s an understandable move.  Also, the mobbler team are keen to point out that whilst the older mobbler versions will currently still work (for those streams that were available to non-paying customers in the first place), it’s a situation that may not last forever.  On the other hand, £3 per month is a lot less than Spotify, so may be more acceptable if you don’t need to specify exactly what you want to listen to (and of course, most Symbian devices still have plenty of capacity for you to carry around a fairly large music collection anyway).

    Head to the mobbler Beta Testing webpage for more information on the beta test.


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    Last.fm planning station changes

    Monday, November 1st, 2010

    Last.fm have announced that as from November 17th there will be some changes to the stations available for users.  The detail of the major changes is here, although the key changes seem to be the removal of the Loved Tracks Radio, some playlists, and the Personal Tag Radio.  However, not all is lost, as Last.fm have already announced that for certain platforms there will be a new Mix Radio option, which comprises brand new tracks, tracks you haven’t scrobbled but are from artists you know, and the rest are tracks you already know.

    Although a fairly minor change, it will be interesting to see how these two changes are reflected across the many channels where Last.fm is now available; will we see updated clients for the PURE Sensia, the Revo range of devices (Revo Ikon, Revo AXiS etc.), and of course the third party mobile clients such as those for Symbian (mobbler) and Maemo (the Vagalume author has already stated he is preparing a new version of the client to handle the station changes).

    As with many things, integrating someone else’s service into your hardware (or developing a software client) is not that difficult, but keeping it up to date months and years after the original purchase is what’s important to consumers, so I will be keeping a good eye out for whether manufacturers step up to support these changes.


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    Revo announce new colour touchscreen DAB radio

    Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

    After the successful launch of the Revo Ikon (released last year), Revo have now added another touchscreen DAB radio to their portfolio, and have released this unit as the first “under £200 colour touchscreen digital radio with multi-format reception”. What does that really mean? It means DAB radio (and DAB+), FM radio, Internet radio, ability to play Last.fm music streams, ability to play music from a PC, ability to play music from an iPhone / iPod attached via it’s dock, and if that’s not enough, it’s got an AUX socket and stereo RCA sockets for piping other music to the device.

    The radio features a 3.5″ TFT colour touchscreen, with a similar user interface as that used on the Revo Ikon, and has an 8W amplifier and NXT’s Balanced Radiator loudspeaker technology.

    I like the range of technologies that Revo put into their DAB radios, and expanded their touchscreen range makes sense, especially by introducing a cheaper device (although with a less powerful amplifier and it appears to not have the stereo speakers of the Revo Ikon).  As with the Revo Ikon and the PURE Sensia, the device only comes with a limited trial subscription to Last.fm (in this case, 31 days), so to continue to use the streaming facilities you’ll need to pay £3 per month.

    The Revo AXiS will be available from 1st October 2010, and be sold at £199.95.


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    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.


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    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).


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