Kogan sent me a media loan unit of their Agora Netbook Pro for me to test & review on Twitter and my Blog before it was sold to the public.
After testing it for few days I’ve given it the coveted & rarely given “Neerav’s Going To Buy It Award” because I was looking to buy a netbook laptop computer & it’s the best candidate in terms of Price Vs Performance + Specifications.
With a widescreen 10.1″ LCD, 2GB of RAM, 6-cell battery, gOS (linux) operating system and light weight of only 1.4kg at a sharp price of $539+ delivery it could be the perfect halfway point between underpowered netbooks and powerful but heavy notebooks.
- Boot time: Using gOS out of the box Time to login screen = 55 seconds, total time to desktop 1minute 20seconds. Reputed to boot quite a bit faster if using Windows 7.
- gOS Operating System – is leaps and bounds more user friendly than Linux operating systems I’ve tested in the past but people familiar with Windows may find themselves using it a bit slower and less efficiently until they learn where all the applications and settings are changed. Kogan say their support team will happily guide you through the process of installing other operating systems like Windows XP, Windows 7 etc.
- Windows Operating Systems – I installed my own copy of Windows XP SP3 onto the Kogan Netbook Pro using these instructions to see how it worked.
Windows XP is clearly faster than gOS on this laptop taking 35 seconds to login screen, total time to desktop 55 seconds. Also Windows offered better wireless access and power saving features as well as a familiar interface that was quick and easy to setup with all my favourite applications.
Reports by other people (see blog post comments) are that test versions of Windows 7 also work smoothly on Kogan netbooks.
- 10″ inch LCD – screen resolution of 1024×600 seems small compared to my desktop computer’s huge 1680×1050 LCD screen but it’s sharp and the Matt finish allows use outside in a shaded area without the excessive glare of reflective LCD screens.
- Intel Atom N270 1.60GHz CPU – was able to handle everything I made it do in my initial half hour test including web surfing, playing MP3’s, watching full screen DIVX and ripped DVD VOB Files smoothly without dropping any frames and didn’t lose audio/video synch.
- Size & Weight & Heat: Slightly smaller in width and length compared to an A4 page of paper and as thick as a medium sized paperback book. Weighs 1.4kg including 6 cell battery so it should be easy to carry in a notebook satchel. The base can get pretty warm when being used heavily but is roughly body temperature during light use.
- 6 cell Battery: has stated capacity of 4400mah and upto 6 hours. I did not have time to test if this was accurate. Reports from other people indicate 4 hours of usage can be expected.
- 160GB Hard disk – is pretty quiet though obviously not silent like an SSD drive but on the other hand has a lot more capacity to store multimedia (music, videos, images etc) and seems to be quite speedy.
- Integrated Stereo Sound – when I played some music at full volume it was decent quality for laptop speakers with no distortion. It could be used eg: to play a video/audio presentation at a meeting or to watch a movie while on public transport
- 802.11 b/g WiFi – was a little tricky to setup in gOS because my office WiFi system is really secure & locked down.
- Once I pressed the silver WiFi button to turn it on, I then clicked gOS Menu->Accessories->Terminal
- Ran the command : ifconfig -a to get the MAC address of eth1 (wireless).
- Added this MAC address to my routers wireless MAC address filter.
- Made my SSID broadcast temporarily (usually I keep it hidden)
- Clicked the 2 computers symbol in the taskbar a top right of screen, filled in all the password details etc and was then connected to my WiFI network
In general the WiFi sensitivity was OK but not as good as other laptops I’ve tested before when trying to use internet access with a weak WiFi signal.
EDIT: Kogan tell me they have recognized this issue and their current stock of Netbooks uses a better Ralink wifi card (180MB driver ZIP file) and not the previous VIA wifi card.
EDIT2: Kogan posted me the Ralink RT2571WF wifi card they’re using in currently sold Kogan Netbooks. It’s sooooo much better than the VIA VT6656 card they used before. With the Ralink card installed I managed to hold a strong network signal 10metres further away from my WiFi access point than the VIA card could handle.
EDIT3: I just installed Windows 7 Ultimate on my Kogan Netbook Pro. Note: I needed to find specific USB (RT257x /RT2671 /RT520x) Windows 7 drivers from the Ralink website to get the wifi working
Tips & Tricks
- The default Firefox theme takes up way too much of the precious 1024×600 screen space so I replaced it with the Classic Compact Firefox theme which frees up a large amount of screen space to actual view websites with.
- gOS doesn’t come with any bundled Twitter applications so I downloaded and installed Adobe Air for Linux binary and the latest release of Twhirl. Tweetdeck is another Adobe Air application you could use.
Kogan tell me that manuals and quick setup guides for Kogan Netbooks will be published on their site within a few days
After testing it for few days I’ve given it the coveted & rarely given “Neerav’s Going To Buy It Award” because I was looking to buy a netbook laptop computer & it’s the best candidate in terms of Price Vs Performance+Specifications.