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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.