PURE i-10 iPod Dock Review

I realise now that I must be reaching dangerous levels of geekiness; I find myself mentally adding the word “pwnage”, complete with the deliberate typographical error and associated change in enunciation, every time I see the brand name PURE. I really wish I was joking.

Now I have got that out into the open I would like to introduce the PURE i-10 iPod Dock which took me all of approximately half an hour to form a positive opinion of.

There are few products you can pick up and immediately form enough of an opinion of to warrant bashing out a review the same day. Keyboards are a good example, particularly because one can simultaneously use them and write about them. The PURE i-10 iPod Dock is another example. The moment I removed it from its packaging this very morning, witnessed its minimalist form with a gentle nod to the iPhone/ipod Touch design aesthetic and felt its quality reassuring weight I knew it was going to be a good, solid product and further testing proved that I was not far wrong.

Of course, I felt the same when I plucked the Arcam rDock from its packaging but it’s important to note that, whilst the rDock sits at a lofty £120, the PURE i-10 is a paltry £30

In line with its price the PURE i-10 iPod Dock makes no far reaching, lofty claims to superior audio quality and, like many iPod Docks, boasts only an analogue audio output so the audio quality is only as good as the DAC on the iPod/iPhone itself… that said, for the most part we’re talking mp3 here so I’m really not going to waste any time testing it.

If you’re looking for USB and video out in a dock then stop here, you’re not going to find either of these features in the PURE i-10 which focuses on simply providing fully featured remote control and a single, 3.5mm audio output.

The PURE i-10 has a surprising number of neat touches for a humble audio-only dock package. For starters it has the single best compliment of iPod dock adaptors I have ever seen in any iPod dock. Not only are there an impressive number of dock adaptors, 9 to be precise. But, instead of the usual confusing plastic lucky dip back of adaptors, they are all organised into a very neat little box, each in their own little slot, with a picture of the iPod which they’re designed for. My only complaint? No iPhone 3g or even iPhone dock adaptors, argh! Dock adaptors have always been somewhat of a mystery to me because any given household could sport a range of different iPods and nobody wants to fiddle about switching adaptors before using any product. I find that it generally suffices to drop the 80gb iPod dock adaptor (the biggest one, I believe) into a dock and then any iPod and the iPhone 3g will fit comfortably even though smaller iPods will not be very snug. As I own both a 5.5g iPod Video and the iPhone 3g this is the only solution that works well for me short of not installing any adaptor.

Onto the remote. It’s significantly larger than your typical Apple remote and those that accompany most of the iPod speaker dock remotes that I have discovered and with this additional bulk comes additional functionality. There are a total of 12 buttons which offer a fantastic level of easily accessed control over the docked iPod. A standby button will put the iPhone into a pseudo sleep without reverting to the lock screen, this is handy because there appears to be no way to remotely unlock the iPhone even though you can still play/pause, skip tracks, shuffle, repeat and adjust volume.

The buttons on the remote are very firm and I can’t decide if this is a good or bad thing. One decidedly and somewhat unnervingly good feature of the remote, however, is how incredibly sensitive it is. I’ve literally been able to point it to the far end of the room, at the floor, or press the end into the palm of my hand any have it still somehow miraculously control the docked iPhone. As someone who has been consistently driven insane by the need to point IR remotes at the device I’m trying to control I find this to be a welcome feature.

With the iPhone unlocked the menu button will move up out of the currently playing track into the track list and then further up to Artist, Song, Playlist, Video and More selection screens sequentially. The same level of control is afforded over a docked iPod so you can get to all of your content quickly and easily without all that pesky standing up.

Although the PURE i-10 is normally mains powered I was able to use it flawlessly without a mains adaptor attached, of course this drained the iPhone battery somewhat. Also, despite the claim that it works with any powered speakers on the box I was able to simply plug in a pair of headphones and listen in with the same level of volume I would get if they were plugged directly into the iPhone. Suffice to say the single biggest advantage that the PURE i-10 has over iPod/iPhone speaker docks is that it can be connected to absolutely any set of speakers, headphones or other audio systems you happen to have handy. This means it can also be stowed a safe distance from your speakers, ensuring that incoming text messages, calls, or just random 2g/3g communications don’t cause any direct interference.

Unfortunately the PURE i-10 isn’t rated as being compatible with the iPhone and suffers some problems when the phone decides to do a little data transmission or whatever it is that phones do from time to time for no apparent reason. Even over headphones the typical interference noise will come buzzing over whatever happens to be playing and a peculiar second issue, which I have not encountered in any other dock will occur: the iPhone rapidly loses and regains its connection to the dock, causing the charge indicator to flash between battery and mains, and the iPhone to repeatedly play the “beep-boop” sound that indicates it has been connected to a power source in rapid succession. This occurs very rarely and randomly but may be a reason for iPhone owners to wait for an i-20.

The PURE i-10 is best used as an addition to a stereo system that does not have its own iPod dock. PURE Radios, with their auxiliary audio input, are also a good companion but are really no substitute to a set of discrete speakers hooked up to a beefy amplifier.

The only thing I can really complain about the PURE i-10 lacking is USB. This seems to be the case with most iPod docks, I want to be able to press a button on it (or the remote) that lets it sync up my device to an attached computer. Of course it’s really not designed to be a desktop dock so its unfair to declare this as an oversight but both USB and, whilst I’m writing wish lists, video out would make it perfection (and, alas, more than £30)

Overall, if you’re not interested in video out or USB on your dock then the PURE i-10 is a much better match for the iPod Touch and (black) iPhone 3g than the official Apple universal dock. It also comes with one extra dock adaptor and the remote is far less ruthlessly minimalist than the Apple one and thus much easier to find on an untidy kitchen counter and much easier to use.

I think, in this case, perhaps the phrase “pure pwnage” is somewhat deserved.

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