Sunday, August 02, 2009

Kogan Agora Netbook Pro mostly good

After four days with the unit my first impressions of the Kogan Agora Netbook Pro are borne out: it is mostly good. The unit with 2 Gbytes of memory appears faster than many desktop computers. In terms of styling it stood up to all but the HP and Dell units on display at the Slug meeting at Google Sydney on Friday.

The unit did not come with a carry case and really needs some sort of rubberised slip cover for protection and to make it easier to carry.

The 10 inch screen is very bright and readable and I am able to sit in the library in full sunlight at a window and still read comfortably. With the fonts adjusted to a larger size, the screen is still adequate for typing text into email and blogs. It is not big enough for desktop publishing, but I can comfortably use Moodle for updating student assignment material and mark forum postings from my postgraduate students.

I am not able to yet get the WiFi to work reliably. In the networking utility there is a pulldown menu which should display WiFi units in range but seems to flick up one for a moment and then disappear. As a result I had to use the supplied Windows computer for my SLug presentation at Google Sydney.

The Linux boot sequence is very fast and it is almost as convenient to boot on the Kogan as it was to resume from hibernate on my old Windows XP laptop.

I have adjusted the sensitivity of the tack pad, so it works as expected most of the time. It is still prone to jump the pointer to the left side of the screen occasionally.

An MP3 player plugged into the USB port flawlessly. I am still working on the intricacies of getting the Virgin 3G wireless USB modem to work (but that was always a difficulty with the Windows XP laptop).

The one genuine fault with the Kogan I have found so far is playing video: it doesn't work and locks the system. When I attempted to test Skype video the screen locked up and I have to power off and on. When I tried the Ubuntu hardware test utility, the system locked up on the video test. At some point when I have a high speed Internet connection I will upgrade the operating system and see if that fixes the problem.

Overall the Kogan Agora Netbook Pro is very good (and excellent value for money). Kogan should perhaps consider a desktop version: leaving out the keyboard, touch pad, screen and battery and adding a clamp on VESA mount. Please note that I am aware that some manufacturers make desktop "nettop" computers with similar configurations to net books. But these tend to be over-specified, overpriced and sufficiently different to the netbooks to eliminate potential commonality.

Netbooks and nettops with common hardware and software could make an attractive package for educational institutions: they could issue netbooks to students and support the same hardware and software on desktops. Netbooks with broken screens (a common problem) could even be recycled as nettops.

1 comment:

Corné Kloppers said...

This is great buy! I installed Win7 on my Kogan Agora Pro and couldn't be happier. Wireless drivers on Windows are so much better... Win7 makes the Kogan Agora Pro an awesome netbook.