Kogan Netbook Pro (Review) 10inch LCD 2gb RAM Atom N270 CPU 6 Cell Battery

Gold Star 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.

Kogan Netbook PRO gOS desktop

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.

Kogan Netbook PRO playing video

First Thoughts

  • 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 SystemsI 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.
    1. Once I pressed the silver WiFi button to turn it on, I then clicked gOS Menu->Accessories->Terminal
    2. Ran the command : ifconfig -a to get the MAC address of eth1 (wireless).
    3. Added this MAC address to my routers wireless MAC address filter.
    4. Made my SSID broadcast temporarily (usually I keep it hidden)
    5. 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

Gold Star 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.

You can buy the Kogan Netbook Pro directly from the Kogan website

33 thoughts on “Kogan Netbook Pro (Review) 10inch LCD 2gb RAM Atom N270 CPU 6 Cell Battery”

  1. What software does the gOS supplied come with – what can / cant you do ?
    All the basic stuff like Open Office, Firefox, Picasa (using WINE) etc etc. Also gOS has a very easy to use “Add/Remove” programs feature with a pre-populated list of applications that can be installed via the internet, able to be sorted by popularity

    Have you tried calling the Kogan support to ask about Windows? Just curious how up to speed they are already.
    Not sure will rely on the reports of people who’ve bought it to see if tech support is ready.

    Why does it have a Windows Key? 😉
    It’s using a very popular 10″ LCD OEM notebook shell, if you’re that concerned put a Linux Tux sticker on it 🙂

    What’s the heat like underneath after an hour or two? What’s it like on the wrist-rest?
    Will report back after testing for a week or two

    Was the gOS installed and ready to rock when you opened it – or is there a installation process?
    gOS is preinstalled and ready to go

    No 802.11n ?
    To save costs they went with 802.11 b/g

    There are 2 blue lights at the front of the wrist rest on the right – what are they for? Battery life?
    The usual notebook indicator lights for Wifi, Hard disk access, Battery etc

    Have fun.

  2. does it have multitouch (i.e 2 finger scrolling, 3 finger middle click?)

    EDITOR: Its just a normal trackpad, no multitouch

  3. The kogan online support chat always seems to be offline and there’s not support number to call.

    You were after some feedback so I thought that I would give you some from a fairly frustrating day.

    I would expect that I am like many other typical users who are used to the Windows world and have heard a lot about Windows 7 being good to use with netbooks. So I set about trying to install Windows 7.

    Everything I saw and read let me to believe that installing windows 7 would be a breeze. Sadly, it has not been. The friendly support that was supposed to be forthcoming a short email from someone at the Kogan support centre telling me that they couldn’t give me instructions because it would be “contrary to Microsoft’s policies”.

    Instead, they gave me a link to someone else’s website with instructions that did not work. After many attempts to get the windows installer to boot from the USB, it finally worked. That took me nearly 2.5 hours this evening to get to that point.

    My joy at seeing the windows installation screen was short lived when if out that it could only install on a NTFS partition and all of the partitions are only ext3, extended or linux-swap. So I would have to find a way to partition the drive and make it a NTFS drive.

    Meanwhile, all of the icons in the gParted application are greyed out. I then google around more and find out that they are greyed out because the drives are currently mounted so I have to try to boot in gParted so that I can do the partitioning before the drives are mounted.

    So back to square 1. This looks to be even harder than the first task of booting windows 7 installation from a usb stick. For someone who is fairly tech minded, this is not easy. It has now been 5 hrs and counting. Good luck for anyone else trying to do the same

  4. I have decided not to bother with the dual boot and am using windows 7 exclusively and it’s great!

    I haven’t had any driver issues (though i’m still playing with it so please consider my comments as still coming from the “discovery” phase). Windows 7 is pretty nice, esp since I’ve come from the XP world.

  5. Nice review, can you check device manager and see what brand the trackpad is (eg synaptics, sentelics/other)? Also what is the Wifi adapter (Broadcom/Atheros/Ralink) and model number if possible?

  6. I have decided not to bother with the dual boot and am using windows 7 exclusively and it’s great!

    I haven’t had any driver issues (though i’m still playing with it so please consider my comments as still coming from the “discovery” phase). Windows 7 is pretty nice, esp since I’ve come from the XP world.

  7. Have installed XP – plugged in ext usb CD drive, set bios to boot from USB CD and std install from there. My main hassle at the moment is finding the NIC drivers – got all the rest, but the wired connection is eluding me (indications are it is a Realtek 8139/810x, but drivers fail to install 🙁 Battery life seems good (have the 6 cell option) Any help on the NIC card would be appreciated – cheers

    EDITOR: i have the exact same issue 🙁

  8. @Warren – Try this driver for RTL8101E, Choose 3 option down for XP Driver

    EDITOR: 3 Cheers for Tom cause that driver works 🙂

    I just disabled the Kogan Netbook Pro’s wireless and connected to my router via Ethernet instead and it worked perfectly

  9. This netbook looks nice, I love how it has the 2gb of ram instead of the normal 1gb I see on alot of other netbooks. i wonder how this would run if I decided to us Mac Os on it? Hmmm

  10. I got mine yesterday and I’m very happy with it. Just 3 down points I found so far:

    – Touchpad is sensitive. When I hit space bar the touchpad respond (e.g. move the cursor) quite often. I’m ok with it since I always bring a mouse.
    – The fullstop, slash (/) and right shift keys are close together, so I keep mishit the keys. This is expected for smaller keyboard and hopefully I’ll get use to the layout
    – Still trying to get my three broadband (E160G) working

    Also, has anyone tried Ubuntu Netbook Remix? If anyone has installed on Kogan netbook, let us know the performance compare to gOS.

  11. Top job on the NIC driver have downloaded and installed.
    If I may, drivers as follows (for a WinXP Pro install) :
    Mainboard – Intel Capell Valley (NAPA)
    Chipset – Intel i945GU
    Video Card – Intel 945 Express Chipset Family
    Network – RTL8139/810x Fast Ethernet NIC (driver is RTL8101e – from Realtek)
    Wireless – VIA USB Wireless (driver is VT6656 v1.70 – from VIAArena)
    Audio – Realtek Audio HD (driver is 5567 – from Realtek)
    Used a program called PCW2008 (PC Wizard 2008)

    Thanks for the forum and the help – cheers

  12. I got my pro version on Tuesday and am relativelty happy with it. Nice screen and very little keyboard flex and I agree with Rosie that the ,./ keys are very close and small.

    Understand with a low price and linux it will mostly be bought by geeks however would have appreciated some sort of restore media – a 4 gig usb memory stick wouldn’t cost much. The bluetooth dongle unfortunately doesn’t sit flush with the the case when inserted.

    Does anyone know if there is any beta graphics card drivers for windows7? The vista ones won’t install for me.

    I managed to get osx installed on it this morning after partitioning the drive have even found an osx driver for the wireless card – will see if it works tonight.

  13. @PJ – Very interested to know how OSX runs and what hardware is not currently working, also which version of OSX have you installed?

  14. Wifi is by default ‘on’ when the computer is switched on. Anyone know how to make it ‘off’ by default? Using WinXP.

  15. I have been following your adventures with the kogan agora, and brought one myself after your review confirmed my suspicions that it was a decent netbook!

    I have installed ubuntu netbook remix (UNR) on my agora pro, and after spending a lot of effort and time getting the wireless and touchpad working (especially the touchpad!) I posted the experience at http://agoranetbook.kayno.net/.

    UNR on the agora is excellent, I think its much better than gOS! I will be adding a lot more to the site as my adventures with UNR continue 🙂

  16. (Also posted on WP) How do you switch off the touchpad in WinXP – can get in the way while typing? FN ESC does not work?

  17. Wireless receptivity is really poor compared to my Macbook. Do you know if there is any way this may be improved. Would a change from Gos to Windows make any difference?

    EDITOR: I found moving to Windows XP did improve the wireless access a bit

  18. How do people find typing on the keyboard?

    I’m wanting to use it for tutorials and lectures at Uni… need to be able to type fast, and concerned about the full stop key, being smaller…

    If I have to spend twice as much time editing all my notes, to fix up the miss typed end of sentences, it will not be worth it.

    Comments please.

    EDITOR: After using it for a few weeks now I’ve found the keyboard is quite usable. YMMV

  19. Kogan uploaded a huge 150mb Windows XP/Windows 7 file to http://www.sendspace.com/pro/dl/hcw41z that has lots of driver files in it

    If you install just the mouse drivers from the “tpad” folder than the trackpad works better and supports scrolling horizantal and vertical in WinXP and Win7 as well as several other advanced useful features

    For more information on the advanced features enabled by the Synaptics Driver read http://www.synaptics.com/sites/default/files/driverpb.pdf

  20. I have just purchased a Kogan Agora Pro and am happy with it, including accessing wireless hotspots, but have one major issue, that you/others can help me resolve.

    Saving files created in Open Office. Get an error message always (say if attempt to save to desktop) stating the following: ‘folder contents could not be displayed’ ‘error stating file’home/ubuntu/ Documents’: No such file or directory.

    Hence no luck yet in saving anything new. But it seems fine with files brought to it via a USB drive and worked on using OO if saved on that drive or on say the desktop.

    Do I need to set up gOS/OO in a particular way – nothing specific was stated in the support doc.

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