You may not have ever heard of Kogan products, and much less so its founder Ruslan Kogan, but you would have heard about his effect on one high-profile retail king. It seems Kogan has gotten under the skin of Gerry Harvey who's currently bleating on about GST on imports, which is in a direct response to the former's online business model. Essentially, the majority of Kogan's products are sourced from factories in Asia and sold here at a discount compared to "a brand name".
With the lengthy-but-straightforward "Kogan Elite 32-inch Full-HD 100Hz LED TV with PVR", the company is taking on not only Harvey but also Korean manufacturer LG.
You may or may not remember an advertising campaign featuring a karate-chopping lass by the name of. While some people missed that it was actually about a physical television, you can bet that Ruslan Kogan didn't, and his Elite looks very similar to that iconic TV.
The TV features a piano-black finish, and some very LG-like trappings such as the clear pedestal and the same red "hole" as the scarlet — though this one doesn't let you poke anything through it. However, the build quality isn't quite up to the same level of the Scarlet, as the plastic surrounding the power button at the bottom of the TV is quite flimsy. Lastly, like most modern TVs, the stand swivels as well.
For a budget device, the remote is actually quite friendly (though we didn't like having to hit Menu at the top of the remote instead of Back to exit each level of menus). The record button is also in a weird place; nestled among a dozen small buttons of the same size and shape.
In 2009, LG debuted itsmodels — TVs that included an on-board (PVR) — and since then other manufacturers such as Panasonic have joined the trend. Typically, these TVs offer bare-bones functionality when compared to a stand-alone unit and the Kogan is the same. Connect a USB hard-drive to the back of the TV and it becomes a single-channel recorder that can pause and rewind live TV. While it also offers recording functions there's no EPG or scheduling available.
Not content to mimic the design or functionality of LG's products, Kogan is upfront about the fact that the television inside also contains an LG panel. This isn't that unusual in itself as there are only a handful of LCD manufacturers in the world, and even companies like Sony have to source them from third parties. Companies are usually shy about their sources, but as you've probably guessed shyness is.
Apart from the PVR the feature-set is a little light-on compared to its more expensive rivals with no, for example. The television does offer up 100Hz, and there is a second USB for playing back media. Supported formats include MP3, WMA and AAC for audio; AVI, MP4, MPG, MOV, MKV and even Real Media RM and RMVB in video; and picture types JPG, PNG and BMP.
Connectivity includes four HDMI ports, a single component input, VGA and two composite connections.
In performance terms, LG televisions typically sit in the middle of the pack, and having tested the Kogan we can say that this TV isn't quite as good as that. While the panel may be an LG the user interface definitely isn't, and who knows where the picture processing — one of the most important aspects of an LCD — came from.