13 12 | 2013

Pure Sensia digital and Internet radio receiver: good idea, bad design

Written by Tanguy

Classified in : Homepage, Debian, Miscellaneous, Grumble

Thanks to a corporate reward program, I just got a Pure Sensia digital and Internet radio receiver: basically, it is a device able to play streams from FM, DAB, HTTP and USB sticks. In overall, it works fine, and it has a remote controller, so it makes a nice addition to my home equipment, but it has what I consider a major flaw, which I suspect to have been designed on purpose.

For playing streams from FM or DAB, the process is rather simple: you select a frequency and it plays, nothing else is involved. I did not try USB yet but it should be similar: you select a file or a playlist and it plays it. But for HTTP streams, it is quite different: you select a stream from a the “Pure Connect” directory which is a list of HTTP streaming services maintained by the manufacturer Pure.

This raises three concerns:

  1. If all HTTP stream access is made from that remote directory, it probably means Pure knows, and possibly logs, every stream you listen to. That is not acceptable.
  2. What will happen when that service is shut down? Not if it is shut down, mind you, but when it is, because it will, since I never heard of any company keeping a service forever, or any company lasting forever itself actually. Well, here is what will happen: all these digital and Internet radio receivers will become digital but not Internet radio receiver. That is not acceptable: when you buy a radio receiver, you buy a device, not a service of indefinite term.
  3. What do you do if you want to listen to an HTTP stream which is not listed on Pure's directory? Answer of Pure's support: you can add custom streams by URL to your Pure account's favourites. Well, good try, but that is not enough or rather, that is too much: requiring a Pure account to do that, is an artificial restriction, which suffers from exactly the same flaw as the Pure directory. And letting a single company know every Internet stream you listen to is not acceptable either.

Considering that flaw, here is my overall comment about that radio receiver: it is based on a good idea, and it has a good overall design, but it implements it in a precarious way. If you buy one of these things, you should know that you are not buying a complete digital and Internet radio receiver but only a digital radio receiver with some Internet features with privacy concerns, which will work for a time and one day stop working on Pure's decision.

1 comment

saturday 14 december 2013 à 16:06 laurentb said : #1

You could write a MITM proxy.

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