One day a boom box made sweet, sweet love to a lunch pail and this designer-sleek internet radio with a fancy OLED display was born of that union.
And it’s one bouncing baby of an audio device. First off, it’s beautiful. The four touch-sensitive buttons that adorn its handsome face glow green like props from Tron Legacy; in fact it’s almost impossible to walk past without tweaking them.
It’s also a great entertainer. Pure gives you access to a collection of over 15,000 stations from all over the world, working together with their website. After connecting it to Wi-Fi, I quickly found myself head-bobbing to Punjabi folk music and trying to decipher community news in Thai.
Did we mention it’s also annoying? Those gorgeous buttons are horribly underutilized. There’s no pause/play button to turn off the music; you need to shut down the radio itself. Plus the learning curve is steep — navigating through the radio’s overcomplicated menus is like playing Pictionary in the dark.
But once you learn how to properly operate the Flow, you’ll have an impressive amount of audio options at your disposal, including seamless streamed songs from your laptop’s iTunes or by directly connecting your iPod. There’s also a robust list of preloaded soothing sounds that can appeal to just about everyone ranging from a human heartbeat (you’re welcome mommy’s boys) to the roar of a 1979 Ferrari (hello gearheads).
Honestly, the best alarm clock is the one you hate. (Personally I need one that is the audio equivalent of a punch to the face.) But the Flow is a bit too polite for my taste. It begins with a whisper of “psst, please wake up” and progressively gets louder, but never reaches banshee decibels on maximum volume. Hitting the snooze button is satisfying but it presents a small target — nailing a bull’s eye in darts after you’ve had a few dozen beers presents about the same level of difficulty.
If you want a stunning clock-radio with great sound that also doubles as a conversation piece, the Flow is actually a decent choice. Especially if you’ve already transformed your bedroom into the interior of an art-deco space capsule, this pricey box will look great next to your sleeping pod.