Pure Contour 200Di Air £200
6th Sep 2012 | 08:30
It's a strange situation where a £200 speaker is considered 'budget', but that's the price you pay for AirPlay
We loved Pure's Contour 100Di, which combined great sound quality with a DAB radio, all for under £100. While the Contour 200i Air is ostensibly its big brother, there's not quite as much family resemblance as you might expect.
It's a fair chunk larger, but most importantly it's swapped the screen and radio for AirPlay support, letting you play your music from your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad (or Mac or PC) over your Wi-Fi connection.
It might seem a shame to lose the radio features in a speaker that costs nearly £200, but when it comes to AirPlay, anything under £200 could be considered budget, so the trade-off seems reasonable to us.
The set-up process for the Contour 200i Air is gloriously simple - getting AirPlay working took less than a minute for us. All you have to do is plug in your iOS device and press the Wi-Fi Setup button on the back of the Contour. A message then pops up on your device's screen asking if it should share your Wi-Fi information with the Pure dock. Just allow this and you're done!
Speaking of the dock, we have to say that it's a bit of a shame that it stays sticking out permanently on the D200i Air. The radio version of the Contour has a dock that slides in when you're not using it, giving it a much cleaner look, but there's no such feature here. It seems doubly odd since you're likely to be using the 200i Air wirelessly most of the time.
It's still a good-looking dock, though, with an understated black and silver design and simple shape meaning that it'll look good just about anywhere.
There's not much in the way of controls on the 200i Air itself, save for a power button, volume up and down, and (handily) a mute button. Anyone who's switched AirPlay sources while standing next to a speaker without realising the new source was on full volume will appreciate this. There's also a simple remote control, offering track controls, shuffle and more.
The most important thing is sound quality, though, and the Contour 200i Air really impresses in this department.
Sound is full and crisp, and really natural. You get the feeling that your music has room to breathe, and the audio is airy and light - and this speaker can get damn loud if you want. It's not quite perfect, though. While the treble offers clarity and substance, it can feel little unrestrained, getting just a tad on the shrill side at volume. Similarly, the bass is punchy and clear, but it lacks a lot of depth and resonance compared to the £500 Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air.
Put the Contour against its own price bracket and fares better - very well, in fact - but the likes of the Lenco iPD-9000 do a better job of giving songs real grunt with their bass.
And, again, the mid-range is generally very good, offering plenty of detail, but it can be a little subservient to the treble, sometimes robbing songs of a bit of texture.
Let's be clear, though - the faults we're picking out are mostly just what it's missing compared to high end speakers. Put it against the likes of the Gear4 AirZone Series 1 and we'd take the Pure easily. Its only weak point is the lack of bass, really.
For our money, Pure has made the best budget AirPlay speaker currently on the market, and if you want painless, wireless audio for under £200, we thoroughly recommend it.