Published on October 23rd, 2012 | by Greg0
AirPlay It All With The Pure Contour 200i Air
If you’re like us, you’re anxiously awaiting yet another set of news from Apple, letting you know that another device is out of date, and informing you of the next shiny objet d’art to come out of Cupertino. The liveblogs have already begun- iPad mini? iPad nano? (update: iPad mini it is!) Either way, Apple’s ecosystem keeps growing, and even the release of Windows 8 in a few days can’t derail the momentum of AirPlay. It’s a bit wonky, to be sure, and has had some serious issues with connectivity, but iOS 6 and the new iPhone appear to have fixed some of the bugs. Of course, now we can’t easily dock our new phones, thanks to the updated port.
Regardless, we’ve been enjoying streaming music to the new Pure Contour 200i Air. We’ve checked out a lot of gear from Pure in the past, including their cute EVOKE Flow. Though they’re better known abroad (this model has been making waves in Europe and Australia for a bit), we appreciate the sleek take on design and styling, as well as their unusual approach towards apps. More on that in a bit, though, as first we want to tackle the hardware.
Superficially, the 200i looks a lot like the original Contour that we reviewed about a year ago. The curves may be similar, and the sound quality is as well, but quite a bit has changed. For instance, gone is the front panel, which offered an LCD screen and controls. We missed the clock, to be honest, and the logo now feels a bit large, but it does look more modern. Besides, most control will be done from your device, thanks to the other big changes- the inclusion of AirPlay and the sacrifice of built-in radio. Most Pure devices have featured DAB digital radio, which isn’t available in the USA, but they’ve also included FM. This model does away with that, and thus also the need for tuning controls to be handy. Instead, the 200i features Apple’s wireless streaming protocol, great for those who use iOS devices like the iPhone or iPad. You can also stream from any computer running iTunes, or through third-party apps like Airfoil that allow you to stream from other applications on a PC.
Brief notes on sound quality, since we covered it in our review of the original in more detail: the system is a solid, unexceptional performer, offering 36 watts of power. This is enough for a small apartment, but for larger parties and thus higher volumes, we did notice some distortion. Bass response wasn’t astounding, though satisfying, but treble was a little weak- though soundstage did seem improved over the previous model. Sound quality seemed largely unaffected through AirPlay, as we’d expect. A small remote is included, but as mentioned, when streaming from your mobile device or iTunes, you’ll want to control the audio primarily from there. There are only four buttons on the device- not quite as minimalist as our top-rated contender, the Bowers and Wilkins Zeppelin Air, but close. In terms of additional hardware specs, an auxiliary headphone jack is included for those who want to plug in another device, and a bit of a differentiation is the ethernet port for hard-wiring as well as a digital coaxial output that we didn’t test but is an interesting inclusion. The dock adapter is solid, and also handy, since some “docks” like the latest from Audsyssey have started skipping the actual dock. It’s not portable, as it cannot be battery-powered like the SoundRing, but does sit nicely on a kitchen counter or bedside table.
As with all AirPlay devices, we did have an occasional issue with cutout, but generally good performance. And we are impressed with Pure’s app, which allows you access to a wide array of internet radio stations, as well as your device’s music library, all in a single app that works well in the background- and even includes some fun extras like ocean and white noise sounds. It’s free, doesn’t require a login, but unfortunately isn’t iPad native and didn’t seem optimized for Retina displays. We did face a couple of bugs as well, but it’s a pretty good app with a lot of free content, and is easy to use. At $250, available online and in stores, we’re happy to recommend the Contour 200i- a competitive AirPlay dock with plenty to appreciate.