Kogan HD Digital Set-Top-Box with PVR

This cut-price personal video recorder lets you watch and record high-definition digital television

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Kogan Technologies HD Digital Set-Top-Box with PVR
  • Kogan Technologies HD Digital Set-Top-Box with PVR
  • Kogan Technologies HD Digital Set-Top-Box with PVR
  • Kogan Technologies HD Digital Set-Top-Box with PVR
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • Ridiculously low cost, simple operation

Cons

  • Adding recording capability ups cost, no optical audio output

Bottom Line

Kogan's Kogan HD Digital Set-Top-Box with PVR is a simple, cheap and trouble-free way to watch digital television. The ability to record digital television programs (with the help of a USB-connected external hard drive or flash drive) is fantastic given the $100 price-point.

Would you buy this?

The Kogan HD Digital Set-Top-Box with PVR lets you watch high-definition digital television on a non-digital TV. You can also plug in an external hard drive or flash drive to record TV shows. At under $100 this set-top box represents great value for anyone wanting to upgrade to digital television.

The Kogan HD Digital Set-Top-Box with PVR isn't physically impressive — it’s a squat, grey box with an old-school LCD screen on the front. There's also a front-mounted USB port that lets you plug in external storage for recording TV shows and time-shifting (pausing, rewinding and fast forwarding TV broadcasts). The rear of the digital set-top box has a range of video and audio outputs; we used the HDMI output to connect the Kogan HD Digital Set-Top-Box with PVR to a Tyagi Max19 LCD television, but analog inputs for connecting older devices are also available (composite and component connectors). There is a coaxial digital output, but no optical audio output means so the Kogan PVR is a bad choice if you’re connecting an external home theatre audio system without a coaxial connector.

The interface of the Kogan HD Digital Set-Top-Box with PVR isn’t exactly colourful or lush, but we weren’t expecting much from a $99 system. A low-resolution white-on-blue GUI is rather ugly, but it is easy to see from across the room. The menu is relatively easy to understand, and the lag between pressing a button and the interface responding is bearable. A comprehensive scan for channels took a little longer than five minutes, and the set-top box successfully found all digital television channels in our area.

The Kogan HD Digital Set-Top-Box with PVR has a rudimentary electronic program guide, although the low-resolution interface doesn’t allow a great deal of information to be displayed. Three built-in games available from the PVR's menu — Othello, Tetris and Sudoku — allow you to pass the time during ad breaks, but won't hold your attention for long due to high remote control latency making gameplay frustrating.

Picture and audio quality from the Kogan HD Digital Set-Top-Box with PVR are perfectly acceptable for digital television broadcasts. The highest supported resolution is 1080i, which is also the highest resolution used for digital TV broadcasts in Australia.

If you plug in an external hard drive or flash drive you can display JPEG photos and play MP3 files, although they are loaded slowly. Attaching storage also let you time-shift and record TV. You can easily record files and transport them to your computer (in .TS format, although transcoding to more popular formats is easy with a third-party video converter), making the Kogan HD Digital Set-Top-Box with PVR a fantastically versatile product for its asking price.

We used a 160GB hard drive, but drives up to 1TB are supported. Buying a large hard drive for the Kogan HD Digital Set-Top-Box with PVR will add significantly to its cost. You can pick up a 320GB external hard drive from an electrical discount store and keep the overall cost under $200, however.

For the price, Kogan's HD Digital Set-Top-Box with PVR is an impressive product. If it couldn't record TV we wouldn't have given it a second glance, but this helps set it apart from other set-top boxes.

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