This Christmas I bought my parents a TV from Kogan. For those of you unfamiliar with the brand, Kogan is the Australian online-only, manufacturer direct to consumer, cost saving, new kid on the block in the electronics market. In terms of TVs, they approach existing manufacturers in China making sets for big name companies like Samsung and order some with Kogan branding.
Shipping direct to consumers cuts out 2 arms of the chain – wholesaler and retailer, which both add their margins on, making the overall cost higher. In consumers electronics, brands often play the race to the bottom on prices, Kogans’ approach allows them to create good quality products while delivering really low prices.
The set looks pretty nice, actually better than it does in press shots (above). The glossy piano black finish surrounds the 40” screen and while the bezel is thick (around 1.5”), I actually like that, having black surround the display makes the colours pop. The speaker below the screen is actually quite decent and actually very loud. Most of the time the volume has been set at 5, in a quiet environment, even the lowest setting – 1 is loud enough. The volume scale is out of 100, but don’t try it on max unless you feel like bleeding from your ears.
The video quality of the Kogan is actually quite impressive. While I don’t think its the best 1080p video I’ve seen, its certainly very good. There’s the occasional compression artefact, fast paced movement never blurred, likely thanks to that 100Hz refresh rate. Colours looked great, although I’d recommend the mild setting for the best black levels.
Given this TV was for my parents, setup needed to be simply, and it was. Connect up the antenna, power and switch it on. As with most TVs these days, the auto-setup wizard takes you through tunning automatically, so naturally that’s a breeze. For some reason we’re still shipping analogue tuners in TVs today, so just skip past that. Once it complete, your all set, ready to watch over the air, high definitely Freeview.
All your standard connections are included on this TV – 2xHDMI, VGA, USB, 2x Component, 2xAV. The annoying part is that none of these connections are available on the side. This means you’ve got two choices when connecting devices. The first is to pull your TV out from the unit while awkwardly plugging in each device – not a good solution. The second is to connect extension cables that can be accessed more easily. Ultimately the seemingly simply task of viewing pictures on a USB thumb drive becomes a real hassle.
The on-screen display for Kogan is quite simple, but clean and decent quality. One of my frustrations with some OSD is that despite being a HD set, they can look terrible. Kogan does a good job, using a up, down, left, right control scheme with a rotating circular menu. Importantly its easy to use and while your configuration options aren’t exactly a lengthy list, the standard options are there.
Buying a TV online
This is the first product I’ve bought from Kogan and after going through the experience and using the device, I’d definitely be comfortable in doing it in the future. After buying the TV online on Sunday, on Tuesday afternoon it arrived. The scary part of making a TV purchase online, or anything of significant value online is clearly the fear that your buying something you haven’t seen or touched. We’re so programmed by years of buying products in-store that its actually requires quite a mental shift to allow yourself overcome that initial emotion and fear.
In reality, when you break down what your actually looking at in-store, your very rarely seeing the experience that you’ll get in your house. First of all, in-store lighting is completely different to the lighting in your house. Second of all, TVs in-store are configured in a way that has all the brightness, colour and pretty much everything else cranked to high. In reality, this is not how your TV will run at home.
Some remotes are amazingly terrible to use, so bad that it seems nobody actually used it before it shipped. Fortunately Kogan’s remote doesn’t fall into that category. The remote has a good feel in the hand, comfortable access to the most commonly used features of volume, channels and source input. The only downside is the EPG is buried in the tiny buttons at the bottom of the remote. Given that guide is a button used everyday, it should have more prevalence. Batteries are included.
Something to be aware of is that Kogan does not ship any manual or warranty information with the device. There’s actually no documentation or paper at all, shocking hey. Welcome to the future people, the days of distributing this content in dead tree format is going away. While some products scale back on the amount included and point to online for more information, Kogan are going the whole way. Kogan Manuals are available from http://www.kogan.com.au/manuals.
As I mentioned at the start, I’m actually really happy with the Kogan 40” 100Hz TV, with the lack of side inputs being the biggest complaint. If you can deal with that, you definitely should consider Kogan when making your next TV purchase. At $649, the TV is great value for money for those who are budget conscious.
More info @ Kogan