Kogan Agora 7-inch tablet review: Kogan Agora 7-inch tablet

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Typical Price: $189.00
2 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Android Gingerbread. HDMI out. 4GB internal storage.

The Bad Terrible looking display. Woeful battery life. No 3G or Wireless N. Some slow load times for certain tasks.

The Bottom Line The Agora is cheap for an Android tablet, but its not good value for money. For all of the features on offer, we can't overlook the significant sacrifices in core elements of the tablet computing experience.

4.0 Overall

Design

Kogan's Agora 7-inch Android tablet is now the fourth that we've seen in this size, and whoever designed this model didn't think too hard about how to differentiate it from the pack. The Agora is a charcoal-coloured slate, made of stiff plastic around its glass display — reminiscent of the ZTE-made Optus My Tab more than any others in this category.

Compare this photo we took with the computer-generated image above.
(Credit: CBSi)

The designer did meddle with the positioning of the standard navigation buttons, deciding that having the Home and Back keys in easy reach would be a bad idea for some reason. Instead, these oft-used controls exist as a rocker switch on the top of the tablet, with a single silver Back button facing the user. Also, before you start hunting around for physical volume controls, there are none. Volume is adjusted by using software keys on the home screen, but this does mean that you'll have to exit an app, such as games, to adjust the volume. Luckily, the volume controls are still visible in the default music player.

There's no rear-facing camera, but you do get a 2-megapixel, front-facing camera for video-calling. Along the right-side edge, you'll find all of this device's input and output ports and sockets, including a micro SD card slot and mini-HDMI out.

The centrepiece of the Agora is a diagonally 7-inch WVGA resolution display, but it is far from the tablet's best feature. The panel, recessed deep below the glass, is a TN LCD panel — one of the cheapest screen technologies used today. Off-axis viewing is dreadful, with negative images appearing at only about 30-degrees off-centre but, to be honest, it's not much better to look at from front-on, either. The colours are dull and listless, the blacks appear as greys and the low pixel density for a screen of this size makes everything on the screen look foggy and slightly out of focus.

Tilting the screen about 30-degrees off-axis will ruin your movie.
(Credit: CBSi)

User experience

Conversely, the user experience is quite good. The Agora runs on Android 2.3 Gingerbread and, with its capacitive touchscreen, it manages to feel quite responsive. There's no custom overlay installed, but the basic Android user experience serves this tablet well. If you want to pretty-up the home screens, you can download wallpapers and widgets through the Android Market.

While reviewing the Agora, we discovered that there was no central location to adjust our user account settings and synchronisation timing. Android users will be aware that there is an "Accounts and sync" menu in the Android system settings, but not, strangely, in Kogan's tablet.

Like many of the tablets that we've reviewed recently, the Agora cannot charge using USB plugged into a PC; instead, you'll have to use the supplied charger.

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