Kogan Agora Mini 3G Tablet Review: Bargain Basement

Kogan's still at this tablet game then. We've been hands-on with the new Agora tablet, and found that while it's better than its predecessors, it's far from perfect.

What Is It?

Announced at CES this year, the new Agora Mini 3G tablet is packing a 7.85-inch (1024x768) screen, a quad-core 1.2GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage (expandable to another 32GB via a microSD card) and a 4500mAh battery.

Rather than stick with an all-plastic construction, the back of the device is all aluminium, which makes the tablet feel better all round despite adding a bit of extra weight.

The new Kogan tablet is also the first in the Agora line-up to include a 3G SIM slot. Sadly, Kogan won’t be packing SIM cards in with purchase. We all know how that ended up last time.

What’s Good?

Every single Agora product we’ve had through on our test bench has the same qualities: it’s cheap, relatively fast and running stock Android. Those seem to be the three cornerstones of an Agora-branded tablet.

Now, of course these are white-boxed devices made somewhere in China and passed onto us in the Australian marketplace, but that doesn’t mean that Kogan isn’t learning which tablets to pick to put into its range.

This new Agora for example is better looking than its previous plasticky compatriots (although the aluminium does make it heavier). The new Agora is also more powerful than anything we’ve ever tested before, coming in at just under the benchmark scores averaged by the original Nexus 7.

The 4500mAh battery is also appreciated in the new Agora: it keeps you keeping on for days on end, even with the 3G SIM slot on top of the device for data on the go.

All in all, it’s a tablet that won’t impress you if you’re a gadget-fiend, resolution-junkie, media mogul or game addict, but it will do you just fine if you’re a casual browser or a technology L-Plater.

The Best Part

I spent my Sunday covered in specs sheets and tablet comparison tables trying to figure out a way you could justify the cost of another small tablet like the Nexus 7 or even the iPad Mini if you’re a basic user.

You can’t.

The Nexus 7 comes in at $299 for the base model. The iPad Mini (sans Retina display) comes in at $349 for the base model. Those models both come with Wi-Fi only: no SIM slot in sight. Adding the SIM slot means you’re paying a minimum of $439 for the SIM-enabled Nexus, and $499 for the Cellular + Wi-Fi iPad Mini (still with no Retina display).

Compare that to the Kogan Agora Mini 3G and you’d spend an extra $300 at most trying to get the same thing from another vendor.

It’s still cheaper than the competition, no matter how you cut it, making it a perfect candidate for your Mum’s new tablet.

What’s Bad?

Sure, it’s great for casual users, but if you’re a gadget junkie that plans on using the tablet you buy every day and not just on weekends or every now and then on the lounge, the Agora is best avoided.

The screen is loaded with glare even in the darkest of environments; the speaker is rubbish, it’s heavy thanks to the new design, and the screen is low-res pixel junk.

Worst of all, however, is the build quality: everything feels cheap. Almost like the whole thing is sticky-taped together. Again, for the price you can’t really complain: you get what you pay for.

Should You Buy It?

It’s good, but not great. Quality cost money, and seeing as how this costs very little of the former you’re not likely to get a whole lot of the latter. That’s what you’d think if you bought it, but if you bought it for your gadget-clueless folks, they’d think you’re a hero. [Kogan]

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