Pure Highway

It's still the only way to get digital radio in the car. Those desiring the extra channels or improved sound quality will love it, if they don't mind the hassle of setting it up every time and have an auxiliary jack in the car.


7.8
CNET Rating
9.0
User Rating

About The Author

CNET Editor

Derek loves nothing more than punching a remote location into a GPS, queuing up some music and heading out on a long drive, so it's a good thing he's in charge of CNET Australia's Car Tech channel.


Design

The main Pure Highway unit sits on its windshield mount via a nifty magnet and two little notches. Despite our initial misgivings about this set-up, it survived the roughest that Sydney's roads had to offer without a single whoopsie moment. We do wish, however, that for the next Highway radio Pure ditches the stiff goose-neck mount for something more compact and flexible.

By far the worst thing about the Highway, though, is the quantity of wires. First, there's the power cable that plugs into your car's cigarette lighter. Then there's the antenna cable that runs along the dashboard and has an end-point that adheres itself to the windscreen — this cable can be hidden somewhat if you're willing to pull trim pieces off your car. And then there's the line-out cable — not included in the box — but highly recommended if your car stereo has an auxiliary jack. All up, it's a mess to untangle, set-up, and then take down and stow away before and after every drive.

Pure Highway on car windscreen

Them's a lot of wires!
(Credit: Derek Fung/CNET Australia)

Once set up, the Pure Highway is pretty straightforward to use. Display duties are taken care of by a simple multi-line LCD screen, and browsing stations and menus is taken care of by a jog dial and its central button. Up to 20 station presets can be stored, with the first three easily accessible via dedicated buttons; stations four to 20 rather fussily require the use of the jog dial.

Performance

The Pure Highway does its best work if your car stereo is endowed with an auxiliary jack. Via auxiliary, music stations have sound quality that's just a bit shy of CD standard, but the extra servings of clarity and purer bass are instantly noticeable. AM stations gain the most, with talk radio announcers finally sounding human — well, as human as some of them can get, anyway.

So long as signal strength is decent there's no static and we suffered no reception drop-outs in the CBD catacombs; tunnels, as well as underground and undercover car parking lots are another matter altogether. In all of our review vehicles, except for a Mazda MX-5 with a fibreglass hardtop, reception was consistently rated at 95 to 99 per cent mark. In the Mazda we weren't able to listen to digital radio unless the car was stationary, and even then only some of the time.

Pure Highway antenna

The Pure Highway's antenna adhered to our car's windscreen.
(Credit: Derek Fung/CNET Australia)

For drivers without an auxiliary port, the Pure Highway comes with an FM transmitter and four transmitter presets. As far as FM transmitters go it's pretty good, delivering a strong signal in the suburbs and it was only overwhelmed once or twice in the inner city. It does, though, cut the fidelity advantage over traditional analog FM radio to the point of triviality and also reintroduces static onto the scene.

Other features

Live radio can be paused and resumed, so you'll never have to miss another moment of Kyle Sandilands' pure genius. The unit's line-in port allows the Pure Highway to function as an FM transmitter for MP3 players and it can also be used as an out-of-car personal digital radio, although you'll need to stick in two of your own AA batteries and a pair of headphones.

Conclusion

If you live in one of the five major capital cities, have an aux jack and absolutely must have digital radio in the car, then the Pure Highway is a must have, if only because it's the only in-car digital radio option. Should you have no line-in port, the Pure Highway is only really worth the cash outlay and fussing over wires if you're addicted to a particular digital-only station or having ABC News Radio uninterrupted by parliamentary broadcasts.

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Mick
10
Rating
 

Mick posted a review   

The Good:Fantastic sound in ones home with PC speakers

The Bad:In car radio stations can drop out

A great alternative application of this digital radio is set it up in ones home with PC speakers and 5 volt power source.

 

Bigmac posted a comment   

I have one installed in my Golf, and because I bought it to listen to the ABC's DIG station, I have the unit stored in my glovebox out of sight and I don't have to touch it, thus I have all wires pretty much hidden. I live in the Geelong region (60k's southwest of Melbourne) and have to rely on the Melbourne transmissions. With the supplied internal aerial reception is sporadic - useless really. I was very disappointed and thought I had bought a lemon. So I purchased the external aerial that is available for it. What a difference! The only place I get drop outs is where my mobile phone also loses signal. I have read on other forums/reviews of poor reception. In my opionion you MUST buy the external aerial to make it work. It's a natty little aerial with a magnetic base that I stick on the bonnet near the windscreen. You don't even see it.

 

Toma posted a comment   

Are there seriously no other options for in-car digital radio? Surely this is the place where people listen to radio most often. Hopefully some more options will come onto the market soon.

 

Derek Fung posted a reply   
Australia

It sure is and we think exactly the same thing.

We're hoping that others will come out with in-car solutions, but the signs aren't good at the moment.

Scott
8
Rating
 

Scott posted a review   

The Good:You can run this no wires with the right car

The Bad:Doesn't display the name of the song that's playing

Depending on the make of your car you can avoid the wires. I have an AUX jack in my centre console. I leave the unit in the console, with rechargable batteries, and the cord from the headphone out to the jack acts as the antenna. So the unit is totally hidden from view and works fine. In some outer metro areas you may have to feed the cable out of the console to get better reception, but this can be hidden between the seat and the console.

 

phil posted a comment   

If your auxillary port is already used by something, can you get switches to switch between your devices?




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User Reviews / Comments  Pure Highway

  • Mick

    Mick

    Rating10

    "A great alternative application of this digital radio is set it up in ones home with PC speakers and 5 volt power source."

  • Bigmac

    Bigmac

    "I have one installed in my Golf, and because I bought it to listen to the ABC's DIG station, I have the unit stored in my glovebox out of sight and I don't have to touch it, thus I have all wires p..."

  • Toma

    Toma

    "Are there seriously no other options for in-car digital radio? Surely this is the place where people listen to radio most often. Hopefully some more options will come onto the market soon."

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