Kogan is an Australian TV brand that's trying to break into the UK market. The company claims its tellies cost less than usual because it sells directly to the public via its website, rather than using third-party stores. Its prices are certainly attractive. For example, the 40-inch, 1080p Elite LED40 LCD TV costs £420, yet offers LED illumination and TV-recording features. But is its performance any good?
The shape of things
Out of the box, the LED40 doesn't look too shabby. The black finish is reasonably attractive and the Kogan logo has been kept to sensible proportions -- that is, small. The TV is also pretty slim, measuring a mere 35mm deep. That said, the chassis feels slightly cheap and plasticky, and certainly lacks the build quality of TVs from companies such as Panasonic.
Setting up the LED40 isn't quite as straightforward as it could be. The set has three HDMI ports -- two on the rear and one on the side. There's also a Scart socket and a set of component inputs, although the latter connection has to be made via a small adaptor cable. The main issue is that the ports are very tightly packed together and recessed to such an extent that it's a pain in the posterior to get the cables into the sockets.
Nevertheless, tuning the TV is a breeze and the menu system is very user-friendly. The electronic programme guide has a vertical layout, with channel names listed on one side and programming data shown on the other. The layout makes it rather difficult to compare what's on at the same time on different channels, but the EPG is still reasonably zippy. Channel changes are very sluggish, though, with the set often taking several seconds to actually display the video from the newly selected channel.
The set's TV-recording features are much more impressive. If you connect a hard drive or USB to the port on the rear, you can pause live TV, or just record a show. You can even schedule recordings via the EPG, just as you would with a normal PVR. There's only one tuner built in, though, so you can't record one channel while watching another.
The recording quality is excellent, as the TV is really just saving the raw digital Freeview broadcast to storage. You can even play back files on your computer using software like Media Player Classic.
Sadly, the Freeview tuner is standard-definition only, so you won't get access to any high-definition channels. That's fine if you already subscribe to a high-definition service from Sky or Virgin, but not so good if you're still getting your TV stations via your aerial.