Remember way back when we reviewed the Pure One Flow, and we mentioned music purchasing? It's here now (sort of, not quite) in the form of the Lounge, a music service that's compatible across PCs, smartphones and the Pure Flow range of digital radios.
We've been giving it a bit of a test drive with the One Flow.
It's a strange beast; it doesn't quite seem to fit any one thing properly. It almost, almost works perfectly, but there are a few niggling, ill-fit moments across the board, indicating that it needs just a little bit more tweaking.
The website is the most easily navigable part of the Lounge — but that's not saying much. It can still get a little confusing.
Once inside and logged in, you can explore everything that the Lounge has to offer: the live radio stations from all around the globe, radio and podcasts on demand, ambient sounds (white noise makes sense, an industrial fan not so much) and a store.
(Screenshot by Michelle Starr/CBSi)
This generally seems to be quite a bit cheaper than iTunes. Katzenjammer's LePop, for example, is AU$11.99, and it's AU$1.29 per song, compared to Apple's AU$16.99 and AU$1.69, respectively. New release The Decemberists' We All Raise Our Voices to the Air is AU$16.99 on the Lounge and AU$17.99 on iTunes, and songs are AU$1.99 and AU$2.19, respectively.
However, it was impossible to use; the website didn't allow us to enter payment details in order to make purchases. As the site currently stands, we couldn't find any way to give it our payment details — the fields are there for credit card entry, but there's no button to save, which just left us feeling cheated.
On the positive side, the radio functions for cross-device pollination are great. The left panel shows nav options up the top, and lists your devices and folders down the bottom. As you browse Live Radio, On-Demand and Pure Sounds, you have a couple of options to send stations to your various devices. Tick the box and click the "Add to Folder" button in the bottom right; or, much easier, simply drag the station's thumbnail onto the device or folder in the left pane.
This information will then be sent to your smartphone or radio, or stored on your computer for easy access to your favourite stations.
Pure Lounge is currently available on both Android and iOS for streaming radio. You can access the website, but, since the only thing that the website offers that the app does not is the unusable store, and since the website does not display well on mobile devices (more so on Android than on the iPhone, although both are pretty terrible), there's not much point.
(Screenshot by Michelle Starr/CBSi)
The apps are for streaming radio through your phone, and, again, you have access to the Live Radio, On-Demand and Pure Sounds channels. Compared to our favourite radio-streaming app, TuneIn, it's a bit clunky to use, with none of TuneIn's speed and navigability — and TuneIn most certainly has a larger catalogue.
It is the ecosystem of the apps that really stands out. Once again, you can access all of your devices, so, if you find a station while you're out and about that you particularly enjoy, you can send it to your radio or computer at home. And there's the benefit of being able to use the website from a PC as a search engine, as well.
If you are not using the Lounge anywhere else, then we don't see much point to getting the app, since its basic radio-playing functions are better executed elsewhere.
On the radio
Playing on the Pure One Flow, the Lounge is great. If you're in an adventurous mood, you can just scroll through the stations until you see one that catches your eye. If you know a specific station, you can search for it, or you can just access the stations that you've added to your Favourites folders. We were a little puzzled by the notion of having different folders for each device if you're going to be able to access those folders from every device, but it is useful to be able to sort things.
We were told that we would be able to purchase songs directly from our radio via the Lounge. This is a feature that sounded particularly exciting to us, and we got as far as the "Buy" button before being told that we had to enter a PIN — which can only be obtained when you enter your payment details into your account on the Lounge website. Cue more teeth gritting.
One thing we did like, though, at least in concept, is the ability to "tag" songs. If you like a particular track, you can press a "tag" button that will analyse and identify the track. Admittedly, this did seem slightly superfluous, since track information is displayed quite clearly on the One Flow's LCD screen, making it very odd when the track could not be identified. However, when it did work, it took us to the aforementioned defunct "buy option", but, more importantly, sent the track details to our Pure Lounge account. It's a great way to keep an eye on new music and not have to worry about remembering the name of that really great song you heard three days ago.
There's a lot to like about the Pure Lounge. The way it lets you keep your favourite stations across multiple devices, as well as keep a record of your favourite tracks, is quite cool.
However, the holes in the service makes it feel incomplete, and, as a result, the experience can be a highly frustrating one. If you don't have a Pure radio with Flow technology, there is nothing to be gained from the Lounge that you can't find better implemented elsewhere. We can only hope that these issues have to do with it being an early build, and that a fix isn't far away.