Kogan eBook reader

Kogan eBook reader review: The e-Ink display and touchscreen are a good combo, but Kogan's e-reader is expensive and slow

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Kogan eBook reader
  • Kogan eBook reader
  • Kogan eBook reader
  • Kogan eBook reader

Pros

  • No nonsense, plenty of formats supported
  • Solid construction
  • Touchscreen is convenient

Cons

  • The excellent Kindle is cheaper
  • Interface speed is slow
  • Text input is painful

Bottom Line

Kogan's eBook reader has a capacitive touchscreen for its 6in eInk display, giving it a functional edge over the Amazon Kindle. The Kindle enjoys a better book-buying experience with its Wi-Fi and Amazon store, though, and it's the same price (or even cheaper for a similar spec). The advantage of the Kogan eBook reader is its ability to read a wide range of eBook formats, as well as handling music playback and photos on its 16-level greyscale screen.

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Kogan eBook reader: Use and performance

There's a big difference between using an eBook reader and reading an ol' fashioned paperback or hardback — no-one's debating that. If you're the kind of person that enjoys the fetish of turning physical pages, of holding a weighty book open between two hands, or of that 'new book smell', an eBook reader is not for you. But if you are interested in e-readers, then it's the small differences in use that are important and that can enhance or hamper your reading.

Almost every device available to purchase today can do more than it says on the label — TVs that can browse the Internet, for example — and the Kogan eBook reader is no different. As well as displaying eBooks it can play music files, show photos, take notes, check the calendar and browse the e-reader's internal filesystem and SD card memory.

The Kogan eBook reader does a good job of the nitty-gritty of eBook playback — you can change fonts, text sizes, and alter margins and a whole host of other minutiae &8212; and you can turn pages either with a swipe of the touchscreen or one of the two page buttons on the lower front of the device. Once you're into the swing of reading a book, the Kogan eBook reader is perfectly capable and doesn't present any problems. The touchscreen and clearly laid-out menu structure makes it easy to change settings while you're reading. If your chief task with the Kogan eBook reader is to read books, then you'll be happy with it. Note that you're not able to easily skip to a particular page number though, and there are occasional formatting errors with different book formats (a book with the author's name in the book title occasionally shows up with Unknown Author in the author field).

There is one large caveat that we should mention, though. The Kogan eBook reader is quite slow — during normal operation, input from the touchscreen only has a visible effect (page turning, selecting menu options, and so on) after around two seconds. Loading a new book takes around four seconds, and entering the book menu from the main menu takes around three. If you press the page turn button, you'll have to wait a second, wait another second, and then the new page appears.

This isn't a problem for regular reading — you very quickly get into the habit of turning to a new page as you reach the end of the current page's last paragraph — but it's when using the Kogan eBook reader's other features like text input or browsing through music that the slow response time becomes frustrating. Typing the word 'Testing' in the notepad, for example, took us 15 seconds (including capitalising the T, of course). We wouldn't use the Kogan eBook reader's notepad functionality at all in day-to-day use, but other functions aren't rendered entirely unusable by the slow response.

Kogan eBook reader: Conclusion

The Kogan eBook reader is reasonably simple to use, and has some extra features that we can see value in (as well as some without any value, like the notepad). As well as the slow performance, it also has another issue — it's unreasonably expensive. Kogan has made its name in selling cheap products of a reasonable level of quality, and the eBook reader only fulfils the second criteria. At $169 it's more expensive than the 3G-enabled Amazon Kindle, widely considered the gold standard in eBook readers. It's even more expensive than the Kindle sans 3G. If the Kogan eBook reader is on sale at a significant discount, we'd consider it.

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