Kogan is a company that prides itself on offering low prices on popular consumer products while still delivering all the features and support of products from better-known companies. The company's Blu-ray player is a great product — fast, quiet and trouble-free.
Like most players on the market, it is unobtrusive without being boring. All necessary control buttons are integrated into the fascia, while a simple LCD display gives information about the disc currently playing.
There are no long waits for discs to read or for trays to open; Kogan’s unit is one of the fastest we’ve tested. Gone are the days where you could switch on your player, walk away and make popcorn before the movie was ready to play — though whether this is a good or a bad thing depends on your junk food habits. It’s quiet, too, with the disc tray mechanism and the drive motor almost inaudible in normal conditions.
There is no shortage of connectors. As well as stereo and 5.1 analog audio there are also coaxial and optical outputs for the cable-conscious. Video is equally diverse, with composite, S-Video and component analog outputs. The full Blu-ray experience requires an HDMI-capable television: 1080p is available over the HDMI 1.3 port.
All the top-level audio formats can be decoded, from regular Dolby Digital all the way to DTS-HD. This puts the player ahead of entry-level units from companies like Sony and Samsung — which are $100 and $150 more expensive, respectively.
When it comes down to navigating through menus the interface is surprisingly polished and intuitive for a budget unit.
Both 24 and 60 frame playback modes are supported, so you can select from smooth or film-like playback. We gave the Kogan unit a run through The Guardian and Pearl Harbor to check image quality and came away impressed. There were no problems with colour balance or image tearing and there was none of the jaggedness and aliasing that was apparent with the Olin OBDP-1000. In addition, it’s possible to enable region-free playback on the unit with just a little remote control trick. This makes the player a fantastic choice if you have a collection of Blu-ray movies from overseas sources.
In addition, there’s some nifty up-scaling of regular DVDs, which lends video a smooth, warm character. Playback is not as spectacular as native Blu-ray discs but it’s still superior to regular DVD resolution, breathing another few years of life into any collection.
If there was one flaw we could find in the Kogan player it would be a lack of Profile 2.0 compliance. Not that this matters to the vast majority of users, but some of the newest Blu-ray discs have exclusive online content that only Profile 2.0 players can access. If you want the latest and greatest you’ll need to get a player that’s significantly more expensive — and we just don’t think it’s worth the extra outlay. [Update: the Kogan Blu-ray Player Full HD 1080P now supports Profile 2.0 at no additional cost: read our updated review here].
Brand loyalty (or snobbery) aside, Kogan’s Blu-ray player punches as hard as almost any other unit on the market. With the addition of such an enticing price-tag, it comes highly recommended.