My Kogan Agora Netbook Pro ordered at about 12 noon yesterday arrived at 7:30 am today. This is an impressively quick delivery (even if I may have expedited it by saying I would be demonstrating the unit at the Slug meeting at Google Sydney on Friday). First impressions are good.
The unit is surprisingly understated: inside the courier envelope was a plain white cardboard box smaller than a briefcase. Inside the box was one thin sheet of closed cell foam. Impressively the rest of the packing was with recycled paper, not plastic.
The box contained the computer, power supply, battery and a very small bluetooth dongle. There was no printed manual at all. The only difficulty was installing the battery pack. The unit comes with a high capacity six cell battery pack which is an odd double cylinder shape. It took several attempts to work out how this was attached and a photo would have been helpful. When installed the battery pack sticks out of the back of the unit at 45 degrees. This doesn't look very elegant, but makes a handy grip for carrying and also makes the unit very stable on a desk and raises the bottom for ventilation.
The unit is entirely black, which I prefer to white or brightly coloured netbooks: white units show dirt and also are more conspicuous when blogging at odd locations. The screen cover has a very glossy patterned surface (I would have preferred a textured mat finish as for the rest of the unit). The keyboard is average for netbooks and not as good as the Tohsiba and HP ones, but is adequate. Otherwise the unit has the usual 10 inch netbook layout.
One surprise is that the small screen. I am used to a 12 inch narrow screen. The 10 inch Agora screen is much smaller, being the width of a sheet of A4 paper, but slightly less than half the height. The wide format seems to work well for entering text.
There being no manual, I plugged in all the cables, plugged in an Ethernet connection and turn the unit on. There are two buttons on the unit: the smaller has an antenna symbol and I assume has to do with WiFi. Powering up produced the usual Linix boot sequence. I was first asked to a user id and password and there was a delay of less than a minute while the system sorted things out. Of the usual questions I was then asked the only problem was with the location, where I had difficulty selecting "Sydney". I tried clicking on the displayed map but kept ending up in Antarctica, due to the touch pad being too sensitive. But that was about the only problem. A gOS log on screen was then displayed.
Entering my newly nominated user id and password, I was presented with gOS's attractive Apple Mac-ish desktop interface. Some of the desktop icons were perplexing, such as a vase of flowers and a snow dome which seemed to be displaying a weather forecast for Texas.
Most useful is the set of cons across the bottom of the screen. Putting the pointer on an icon enlarges it. By default there is the Firefox browser, Open Office, Skype and a set of Google tools. As with other netbooks, the Google tools are a bit of a cheat, as they just open the browser and take you to the web site of the Google tool.
The Internet access worked flawlessly and Firefox brought up the Yahoo home page for UK by default (perhaps these units were intended for the UK?). Apart from the home page a few other defaults will need to be changed. The default text size is too small and the sensitivity of the tack pad needs to be reduced, but that is about all.
Apart from setting up email, here will be a challenge in finding replacements for the few Microsoft Windows specific applications I use. One of these is accounting software for my business. I noticed that Google accounting is one of the functions on the Kogan, but does it do Australian BAS statements?
ps: One curiosity is the name of the unit: "Agora", which was a town square in ancient Greek cities. Perhaps this suggests the netbook is the place where you now interact with education, government, business and society, as was done in the Agora of the ancient world? I have often walked past the marble block set into the floor of the National Library of Australia, which is from the Library of Pantainos in the Ancient Agora of Athens. The word agoraphobia derives from this. Makers of larger, more expensive and not so functional computers way well suffer from fear of what the Agora may do to their business. ;-)