The vast majority of the TVs we see come from somewhere "out east" - Japan, Korea, Taiwan or China. But today we’re heading south. Way south. For the Kogan brand behind the Kogan LED55 KULED551HDAA TV on our test benches today is actually Australian.
Kogan has dabbled its toes in UK waters before, but only this year has it really made a full-blooded assault on our infamously tough TV marketplace, setting up its own online retail website and launching a surprisingly full range of TVs. And sitting right at the top of this range is the Kogan LED55, a 55in TV with a Freeview HD tuner, 100Hz processing, and a surprisingly slender design made possible by its use of edge LED lighting.
The home for Kogan’s UK flagship screen - which remarkably only costs £749 - is a passably attractive one, thanks to a high-gloss finish and some respectable build quality. The TV’s lines are a bit ‘standard’, it has to be said, and its bezel is wider than we’re becoming accustomed to seeing, making the Kogan LED55 quite a dominating presence. But at least its rear end is quite trim for a budget TV.
Connectivity is perfectly decent too. HD fans should be satisfied by the provision of a trio of HDMIs, for a start, while there’s also a D-Sub PC port so the TV can double up as a computer monitor; an Ethernet port; and a USB jack that’s able to play video, music or photo files using the AVI, MP4, DivX4, DivX5, XVID, MP3, WMA, JPEG and BMP file formats.
The USB port can also be used, impressively, for recording from the HD tuner, with USB drives up to 1TB supported. This sort of functionality certainly goes beyond what you would normally expect to find on such an aggressively-priced 55in TV, and raises hopes that the Ethernet port might extend to such "value added" functionality as DLNA streaming or even online Smart TV functionality.
Sadly - if predictably - this does not prove to be the case. The Ethernet is there simply because the inclusion of the Freeview HD tuner demands it. It doesn’t provide a pipeline to your PC or any wider online services. Oh well. Such is budget TV life.
If you’re the sort of person who tends to tremble in fear at the very sight of a few onscreen menu options, the Kogan LED55 could be the TV for you. For its onscreen menus are just about as basic as basic can be, in terms of both their presentation and the limited amount of functionality and adjustments they contain. The only surprise is an elementary colour management system, which lets you tweak the balance of the red, green and blue image components.
While the Kogan’s onscreen menus are straightforward, though, trawling through them is not. This is because the set’s remote control system is really pretty horrible, with rubbery buttons, a vague layout, and worst of all, a far-too-narrow effective reception range that prevents the TV responding to your remote commands unless you’ve got it pointed at the screen from exactly the right angle. Very annoying.