Kogan FHDLED26 review
While most brands of television hail from the Asia-Pacific region, Australia is not a country known for supplying budget LCD TVs, but that’s exactly what Kogan is promising. This 26-inch telly with LED goodness is part of a large range of TVs that is an attempt, in Kogan’s own words, to end “rip-off” prices in the UK.
The new kid on the block brand even claims that its TVs are 20-50 per cent better value than its competition, stating that the UK is often referred to as the “Treasure Island” where companies can charge more for their products than in other countries.
With that in mind, Kogan is offering supermarket prices for 19-inch (£129), 22-inch (£169) and 24-inch (£189) models that seem attractive, but this 26-incher costs an extra £100. Seems a little steep for a measly extra 2 inches?
It does indeed, though the FHDLED26 still represents relatively good value purely on size. When it comes to quality, however, it’s a different story, and Kogan’s claims begin to unravel as it becomes clear that the FHDLED26 is all about features and little about picture quality.
Kogan’s promises are three-fold. It’s an ultra-thin Full HD LED TV, boasting “state of the art” design, and has a built-in PVR. We’d also add to that a comprehensive approach to digital file playback, with the likes of DivX, XviD, MP4, MP3 and JPEG all catered for via the USB slot.
That’s quite a haul for a budget screen, but let’s start on the rear of the TV. There are plenty of ins and outs on the back of the FHDLED26, but their positioning doesn't make much sense. Along the bottom of the TV’s back is a small sunken space with a USB slot, two HDMI inputs, a Scart and a VGA input for a PC in the roof. That’s a reasonable collection, but it can be tricky to squeeze and bend cables to make use of them. So tight is the space around the USB slot that we had to turn the 26VAA upside down to insert a memory stick.
A side panel of equal size has the opposite problem, with cables likely to trail into view; luckily Component video is via a one-cable adaptor. Elsewhere here are left and right audio phono inputs, Composite video, an RF aerial input, Common Interface slot, a - far to high-up on the panel - third HDMI slot and a headphones jack.
“State of the art” design proves an exaggeration; LED backlighting has achieved a 45mm depth, which is impressive, but the frame around that panel is fairly wide. And besides, can gloss black still be thought of de rigueur? By now it adorns most of the nation’s living rooms. The desktop stand itself appears to be modelled on Samsung’s range of LED-backlit TVs - no bad thing - though if you’re primarily concerned with slimness Samsung’s super-slim small screens are actually relatively cheap (roughly £50-or-so more expensive that the FHDLED26).
Aside from slimness, LED backlighting tech was dreamed-up to help create more contrast-rich pictures. It doesn't achieve that here, with neither deep blacks nor peak whites on show, something that takes away the richness of the rest of the colour palette. Significant blur - during camera pans and follow-me camera shots, for instance - is another worry, though the biggest concern are pictures from its Freeview tuner, which seem foggy.
Full HD pics on this native Full HD panel, meanwhile, are packed with detail; perhaps the FHDLED26 could do a job with a PS3 or Xbox if you restrict yourself to relatively slow moving games. Some headphones might be in order, too, because the speakers strapped to the bottom of this set deliver a treble-heavy soundscape.
The success of the USB recording is down to the FHDLED26’s surprisingly slinky onscreen menus, which are nicely designed using high-res fonts and graphics, plenty of fade-in effects (even the input select menu sweeps in from the right-hand side) and - best of all - a simple-to-use architecture. Recordings can be made from the (sadly very basic) electronic programme guide, or directly from the stodgy remote, though bear in mind that if you record a live TV channel you can’t then change channel.
Lastly, our tests with digital files revealed Kogan’s claims to be true; we managed to play a plethora of files without any problems, complete with preview screens for video files - and you can add MOV to its video file compatibility list, too.
Putting an end to “rip-off Britain” is a tried-and-tested marketing splash, but the low price Kogan is charging for the FHDLED26 can’t disguise the fact that it uses a second rate LCD panel. Blur, uneven brightness and fuzzy standard definition pictures put the “good value” claims in doubt, though an excellent user interface, useful USB recording options and comprehensive digital file compatibility partly restores our initial good impressions; one for occasional use in a small kitchen or bedroom.