Kogan Agora Tablet Review: Doing It For The Kids

On paper, the Kogan Agora tablet looks great. $179 gets you a 10-inch tablet complete with an IPS screen, Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich powered by a 1Ghz ARM processor with 1GB of RAM and front- and rear-facing cameras. What could go wrong?

It's a curious device, the Agora. There are plenty of pros, but each one seems to be matched, and even at times outweighed, by a corresponding con.

The screen, for example. Pro: it's a big, bright capitative touchscreen that is awesome to see on a tablet at this price point. Con: for some reason the screen feels tough to scroll around with and often unresponsive.

Another example? The operating system.

Big manufacturers are now notorious for not issuing Android 4.0 updates to their devices. The Agora comes with ICS out of the box, which is great, but for some reason the operating system feels penned in, and constantly crashes. Memory management issues might have been to blame here, but we'll never know, purely because on the pre-release model we were given, the Apps tab of the Settings app doesn't load, and instead serves to crash the app entirely.

We're told that this was just a bug in the devices running Android 4.03:

That settings bug - and any general stability issues - will all be fixed. The pre production units have Android 4.03, the ones shipping to customers have 4.04

One con that can't be matched by a corresponding pro, however, is the camera. What an appalling load of rubbish.

We said in our first look piece that the camera should only be used in a dire emergency. To be honest, I'd rather go without the precious memories on film than live with them captured on this camera. There are a few test images (below) for your consideration.



It's only a 3-megapixel camera, so I wasn't expecting DSLR-style shooting, but I was expecting something better than images that look like someone sneezed on the lens before you took the shot. It's a shame, too, simply because the camera's probably only there so that it checks a box in a comparison chart next to other tablets.

It would have been better not to include the camera at all and instead make the price more compelling. Right now it feels like an afterthought.

It's clear from a few hours with the tablet that it's not for hardcore users looking to work their devices to the bone, rather it's for the beginner tablet user, like your grandparents, who aren't sure if they want to drop $600 upwards on a device they might not need.

An example of this is the design. It's thin, light and there's a slew of ports on the side of the device that are all clearly marked for your convenience, making it easy for first-time tablet users to jump straight into the fray and know where everything goes. Whether or not that ink stays readable over time is another thing entirely.

The Kogan Agora tablet fits a very specific use case, then. If you're looking to take this on the road as a media centre, productivity tool or even a PC replacement, you'll be throwing it out within hours of tearing open your packaging. Instead, if you're someone whose kids can't keep their hands off of your precious iPad or Galaxy Tab, this is one for them.

Games playback is smooth and very usable, movie and YouTube playback works well and the speakers are loud and clear, making the Kogan Agora ideal to give to the little ones in the back seat and quell the endless chorus of "are we there yet?", and replace it instead with the pleasant sound of birds flying into pigs or fruit being ninja'd.

Should you buy one?

If you're looking to pacify the kids on a long car trip or want a device to either get yourself or someone you know around to the idea of owning a tablet, this is a device for you. $179 is a great price for what you get in the Agora. Sure, it's been a bit sloppily executed for someone looking for a fast and flawless, but it's great for those just looking for it to do one or two things well.


Comments

    I found the article difficult to follow. The only stated problems are:
    1. dodgy OS
    2. the ink on the case might rub off over time
    3. the camera is of poor quality.

    1. was supposedly fixed by an update.
    2. might not exist
    3. is real - I would've expected Kogan to test their devices before they gave them to reviewers.

    For 180 bucks I'll buy a production one and let giz know.

    I think my Nokia 6230 took better pictures than that, in 2004!

    The only time I ever use my u

      ...Blake must have been using a Kogan Agora Tablet to enter his comme....

    At this price point it's tempting. I've been intrigued by tablets for a while but the price point has always seemed to high for what I want one for. I'm not after a full fledged mobile computing device but a companion device for my computer around the home, something I can use for light activities when not right in front of my PC (while watching TV for instance).

    Anyone else use a tablet in this manner? Do you think one of these would suit that purpose?

      I would bet that most people use their tablets in this way.
      I am a heavy duty iPad user, but in no way has it replaced my computer and it won't for a long time to come.

        I recently got myself an Asus transformer pad and now use it for most of my daily computing activities; the main PC is much less frequently even turned on now - in fact, it goes for days without being touched. Admittedly the Asus has the physical keyboard and mouse pad, which makes it more usable than a pure tablet for some activities, and the Agora's slow performance may affect how much you do use it, but I was surprised after buying mine.

    Using cameras on tablets is pretty fricken pointless anyway, even when it's a great camera, unless it's a front facing camera for video chatting or something.
    So it's probably a choice- to train silly people not to use it. i.e. if you really must take pics with a rear camera, there's one provided, but it's crap like your thought process ;)

    Maybe that's too harsh, but I'd like to think that was the reasoning.

      They actually have a use though.

      A while back the real estate agency came over to do an inspection, they have a app on the iPad for doing the inspection, and they take the photos and write comments in the app and send it off, quite neat actually.

    I have a use, door stop!

    Pretty sure it would make a terrible door stop as it's so thin your door would go straight over the top of it :P

    There's too many cheap and nasty tablets out there right now though, its kind of dissapoint.

    Specs page says its a 2MP camera not a 3MP http://www.kogan.com/au/buy/10-inch-tablet-pc-android-8gb/

    I really want to know how dire the front facing (0.3 MP) camera is. IF I got this for the aging in-laws and they used it for vid calls to see the grandkids, would the grandkids actually be able to recognise them? Please show a screen shot from this camera, maybe comparing the same image with one taken by the rear camera.

    The device is a rebadged Gemei G9, which is known to be sluggish and unstable with stock firmware. There is a CM9 nightlies firmware available at Slatedroid and I have heard good things about it (speed and responsiveness improvements). Just make sure that you apply the suitable compatibility patch (look for the patch for Mediacom 907c and MOMO11 Bird).

      i cant seem to get cm9 working on mine, when i reboot it just goes back to how it was?

    Battery life? -Not mentioning this is a huge fail, everyone considering buying one is gonna wanna know this.
    Screen viewing angles?
    "there’s a slew of ports", eh? Which ones?
    I mean, is this supposed to be a review or what???

      yo my dude, I would have to agree here. I mean, its not really even a summary review. Battery is a BIG deal too.

    I just bought my daughter an Ainol Elf2 7" tablet and it has exceded my expectations. I have been thinking about this for a while and I made the plunge with this as it has ICS and a dual core processor. Sub $150aus it is a really well made device and so for does everything claimed. I guess I see how long it lasts but if you are after a budget tablet this is hard to beat.

    I've just pre-ordered the Google Nexus 7 for £159 ($199 in Australia). It has fantastic reviews and specs, but it does lack HDMI and an SD card slot. To anyone deciding on what tablet to buy, have a look at the Nexus 7... $199 for a Tegra 3 quad-core CPU and 12-core GPU? Why not? I'm sure a lot of people already know about the Nexus 7, but this comment is for the benefit of those who don't.

    @Mmmmm, I bought an Ainol Aurora for myself back in January. It arrived two months later, due to problems in their factory, with defects including the screen not properly connected to the case and dead and bright pixels. Granted, those issues only affected their Aurora tablets (AFAIK), but it left a sour taste in my mouth. I won't be going near another Chinese tablet after that. To be fair, it was a decent performer for the price, but only after many custom ROMs.

    I've just purchased this device and the biggest downfall is the wifi connection. My modem is based in my study and if am sitting in my kitchen 1 wall and a small hall away i get very limited connection, i sit in my theatre another small hall away from the kitchen then i get so wifi connection to my device however if i take my, old 3gs iphone, my new S3 Galaxy or my laptop to my front yard or the road (another 15-20m away from my theatre) i still get perfect connection on all the mentioned devices.

    For some reason the Kogan Tablet has a very very poor wifi connection.

    Sorry the comment above section "then i get so wifi connection to my device" should read

    then i get (NO) wifi connection to my device

    Do not waste your money on buying one of these absoluately horrible machines. I have been in the market for a little while wanting to buy a tablet and made the big mistake of waiting for the price of either the samsung or ipad to drop. Then I heard about the Agora on the radio gadget show where the presenter was raving about how good the Agora was at such a low price. So I ended up paying $218 - $199 for the tablet plus $19 for freight which has been the biggest waste of $218 I have ever spent. I have no idea where to start with the problems I am having with this piece of s__t. The WiFi disconnects all the time, the browser not only lags but freezes, the keyboard does not type the letter I just touched, there is a white light right around the edge of the screen on the right hand side, it does not connect to my external hard drive, the camera takes horrible photos, also I tried to download the Firefox for tablets and the site tells me that it does not recognise Agora device??? There are so many other problems with this tablet I am kicking myself for buying it etc etc etc. Also the customer service at Kogan is absolutely horrible. I have never dealt with such a poor example of a customer service dept in my life. Their live chat sometimes redirects you to send them an email which takes anything up to two days for a response. They also do not keep promises. I placed an order for the tablet on the 26th June and I was told it will be shipped on the 16th July. It was shipped on the 19th July and I did not get it until the 30th July. Only thing this tablet is good for is for my 18 month old son to watch videos on it. I should of spent the extra few hundred dollars and get an Ipad or a Samsung Tablet. SAVE YOURSELF ALOT OF STRESS AND DO NOT BUY ONE OF THESE TABLETS. IT IS HORRIBLE TOTAL WASTE OF MONEY AND TIME.

    I agree with wifi bit. I sit on top of my router and still cannot get chrome to stably cpnnect to anything
    keeps saying things like ,'browser failed, do you want to reconnect' Whata load of shit I bought!

    Kogan agora rubbish

    seriously big problems with this, I bought it because i had some cash to spare - already have an ipad. didnt do anything out of the ordinary aside from install apps, andnow its stuck in a boot loop - and no response from kogan support yet.

    ok - just for those that have the boot loop try doing this: http://www.futeko.com/navpage/support.php#ekena90
    use the eken a90 steps to recover (same device rebranded)

    worked for me! - still unhappy with kogan

    also for those interested I found that flashing CM9 nightly from:
    http://www.slatedroid.com/topic/33373-rom-cm9-nightlies/
    and installing the compatibility zip:
    Eken T05a (unknown version) needs t05a-unk_compatibility_1.2.x.zip compatibility zip

    worked for me.

    cept wifi still an issue....

    I have had my Kogan tablet for a week and have still not been able to connect to my home wifi. It connects at work and at McDonald's but I can't get an answer from Kogan about the home connection. They do not answer my emails. If they are working on a fix could they just tell us.please? Everything else seems to work okay, at least what I tried at McDonald's and work except that I couldn't set up my email. The browser did drop out a couple of times at McDonald's. I have spoken to a couple of tech people but they seem to have no idea about the wifi problems. Came home early today to ring and their help desk is closed early , before 4.40pm though the message said 5pm.
    I have had Kogan appliances before and been happy with them: two TVs and a ebook, (tho' the ebook has hardly been used.)

    I just put a bid on one of these 10'' tablets on Ebay - should have read the reviews first! Now hoping I am outbid. If i win it I will come back with a review - fingers crossed you guys had Monday morning made devices?

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