Hard experience unfortunately suggests that we shouldn’t expect particularly great things from a really large, ambitious TV that comes from a very small brand like the Kogan LED55. And unfortunately the Kogan pretty much lives down to expectations.
Our biggest single gripe with its pictures concerns its pretty dreadful 100Hz processing system. This does smooth away judder and reduce resolution loss over moving objects as you would hope, but it only does so at the expense of some of the most prominent and excessive unwanted side effects we’ve seen. There are smeary haloes around moving objects, there’s flickering over very fast areas of motion, and bright contoured edges around moving objects can ‘glimmer’ at you in a most unnatural fashion.
Not surprisingly, this all had us quickly heading into the onscreen menus to turn the 100Hz processing off. Only it turned out that no such option exists. We couldn’t actually turn the offending processing system off. Yikes.
A call to Kogan confirmed that we weren’t missing anything - though it also elicited a response from Kogan to the effect that a firmware update was in the offing that would add an option to turn the 100Hz feature off. However, we haven’t been able to test this for ourselves, and since the update can only be introduced via USB, we can’t help but wonder if it will really find its way onto existing stocks of the TV.
In any case, such amateurish nonsense is hardly the sort of thing Kogan really wants to be doing when trying to conquer a new market. In fact, not including 100Hz deactivation on an on-sale TV is such a fundamental "fail" that it has to make you wonder just how well Kogan really understands what’s going on inside its own branded TVs.
It didn’t help during our review, either, that the online instructions manual for the TV (you don’t get a paper one) turned out to be for the wrong model. Grrr. Talk about not making a good first impression...
Another issue with the Kogan 55in model’s pictures will sound familiar to regular readers. For as with many edge-lit 55in TVs, the picture is a little prone to areas of backlight inconsistency. Each corner of the image during dark scenes betrays a small jet of light shooting in for an inch or two over the image - a phenomenon that’s clearly quite distracting at times.
These obvious corner ‘jets’ are joined, moreover, by subtler areas of inconsistency elsewhere during dark scenes. You can reduce the impact of this issue if you make sure you reduce the sets brightness considerably, to barely a third of its maximum setting. However, the brightness point at which the backlight inconsistencies disappear also happens to be the point at which shadow detailing in dark scenes tends to be squeezed out of view.
The Kogan struggles with colours too, on not one but two levels. First, colour tones don’t look especially natural for video viewing, no matter what we tried with the basic colour management system. People on screen, in particular, look like they been doused in an orange-toned fake tan, or else they look like they’re ready to throw up.
The other problem is that colours don’t appear with any real precision in terms either of the range of tones the screen can produce, or the way they’re blended. As a result, where there should be subtle differences in a colour’s tone across an area of the picture, you tend to get the impression of just a single, flat expanse of the same colour. This turns skin tones into plastic, and makes some video sources look cartoony.