Kogan eBook Reader

An affordable eBook reader that comes with a 1500-title library

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Kogan Technologies eBook Reader
  • Kogan Technologies eBook Reader
  • Kogan Technologies eBook Reader
  • Kogan Technologies eBook Reader
  • Expert Rating

    3.75 / 5

Pros

  • Good quality screen, 1500 preloaded e-books, supports lots of formats

Cons

  • Cheap plastic buttons, text input feels sluggish

Bottom Line

The Kogan eBook Reader is a good option for bookworms on a budget. The inclusion of 1500 eBooks saves you the trouble of building up a library yourself.

Would you buy this?

The Kogan eBook Reader marks Kogan Technology's first foray into the popular eBook market. Boasting a high-clarity 6in e-ink screen, an SD memory card reader, an inbuilt MP3 player and extensive file format support, it is perfectly capable of competing with the likes of the Amazon Kindle and Borders Kobo eReader.

Looking for the best eBook reader? Before you buy an Amazon Kindle, Apple iPad or Sony reader check out our eBook reader comparison guide to find out the best features you should compare.

The Kogan eBook Reader also comes with 1500 eBooks preloaded onto the device — complete and unabridged. Even if you only tackle a faction of these books, that still translates to months of entertainment.

On the downside, the user interface takes some getting used to and the build quality could be better. All in all though, we think the Kogan eBook Reader is pretty impressive for the asking price.

The first thing that stands out about the Kogan eBook Reader is its Apple-esque box. We're used to Kogan products coming in plain white cardboard; one of the accepted quirks of online retailing. However, when it came to the eBook Reader, Kogan really pulled out all the stops. The handsome packaging sports multiple flaps, sturdy foam inlays and glitzy patterns — all the ingredients needed for a saucy unboxing video. Could this be the dawn of a new, sexier Kogan?

Kogan eBook
The Kogan eBook packaging is surprisingly handsome

Unfortunately, once these outer delights have been unfurled and discarded, you're left with a pretty plain looking eBook reader. Like Kogan's range of HD TVs, the eBook Reader sports an industrial, no-frills design that doesn't draw attention to itself. It's not ugly by any means, but it also fails to rise above its budget-level roots. (We were particularly disappointed by the cheap feel of the plastic buttons — although they remained perfectly responsive throughout testing.)

Weighing 229g and measuring 176x118x9.6mm, it is averagely sized for an eBook reader with a 6in display. While a bit too large to carry around in your jacket, it should easily fit inside a backpack or handbag. The device also comes bundled with an attractive leather slipcase — handy for protecting against knocks and scratches.

The Kogan eBook Reader's controls consist of 12 buttons that run down the right-hand side of the screen, along with two scroll buttons to the left. All the essential eBook tools, such as Search, Bookmarks, Favourites and Zoom can be quickly accessed via a press of the menu button.

We found the Kogan's interface to be a bit finicky at first — particularly when it came to the Search function. In place of a keyboard (as featured on the Amazon Kindle), the Kogan eBook Reader requires you to cycle through onscreen letters, mobile phone–style. The sluggish refresh rate initially caused a headache too, but we were soon typing in book titles and key phrases with aplomb.

The Kogan eBook Reader comes with minimal connectivity options; in addition to the aforementioned SD card slot, you get a headphone jack and a mini-USB port. The device uses a li-ion battery, which Kogan rates at 10,000 page turns.

Kogan eBook
Kogan eBook Reader with leather slipcase attached

To get you started, the Kogan eBook Reader comes pre-loaded with 1500 eBooks from both local and international authors. As Kogan enthusiastically highlights on its Web site, the preloaded library includes the works from such distinguished luminaries as George Orwell, Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. However, it's worth noting that the writers' more famous books are conspicuously absent. For example, instead of Animal Farm, you get Orwell's widely panned A Clergyman's Daughter. In place of Great Expectations, you get To Be Taken With A Grain Of Salt — a bit like Kogan's claim of including classic literature. (Boom-tish.)

That said, if you've already read the authors' celebrated oeuvres, there isn't much point in owning a digital version. If nothing else, the included 'classics' will give you a chance to devour fresh material from these literary masters.

The Kogan eBook Reader supports no fewer than 16 eBook file formats, including EPUB, HTML, PDF, TXT and RTF. This means you can purchase digital reading material from almost any online store.

To test the device, we leafed our way through a collection of short stories by HP Lovecraft and were more than satisfied by the Kogan eBook Reader's performance. The 4-bit display is very crisp, with good viewing angles and minimal glare, even in direct sunlight. The screen quality is certainly up to the standard of other eBook readers we've tested, including costlier options. We were also impressed by the refresh rate, with each 'page turn' taking less than a second. The Kogan eBook Reader took around 40 seconds to power up, which is pretty average for device of this kind.

Kogan eBook
Kogan's eBook display is crisp and easy on the eyes

With an asking price of $189, the Kogan is one of the more affordable eBook readers on the market. However, the device does not come with Wi-Fi or 3G capabilities (features offered by the two new Kindle 3 models). This means you're forced to connect the device to a computer whenever you want to download books or other information.

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