The Kogan Blu-ray player is the third Kogan product I’ve reviewed. Last year I did two of the company’s TVs. The first – the Kogan X46 – impressed as excellent value for money. The second – the Kogan Pro 42 – I suggested ought not be purchased by video enthusiasts. It later came to my attention that some internet forum participants interpreted the first review as me being on the take from Kogan, and the second as me covering up.
Well, I suspect that this review will be interpreted as me going back onto Kogan’s payroll. Because this Blu-ray player ought to be dreadful, given that it costs only $249. Instead it’s rather decent in its major functions, although with a few quirks.
This Blu-ray player is a BonusView unit, offering support for both secondary video and audio. But it is not BD-Live, so there will be no downloading of additional special extras. The 256MB of persistent storage (ie. the memory is retained when the unit is switched off) required for BonusView operation is internal, so there is no need to purchase a USB memory card.
The unit has full 1080p24 output capability from its HDMI port, plus the ability to deliver the original digital sound – including the new high definition formats – via HDMI. The front panel has touch controls rather than push buttons and on the back is a hardwired on/off switch.
The biggest feature is, apparently, unique to this unit: it is capable of playing both Region B (Oceania, Europe, Africa and the Middle East) and Region A (North and South America and parts of Asia) discs.
The unit doesn’t automatically change region. You have to apply a two keystroke code using the remote control to switch between A and B. All three of my Region A discs played perfectly.
For these and all regular Blu-ray movies, the picture performance was excellent, delivered at 1080p and 24 frames per second. The colour seemed to match specification, the image was sharp and there were no decoding wobbles.
The sound was just as good. The latter was expected since I just piped the bitstream straight out to my receiver. My tests revealed that the unit can decode Dolby TrueHD audio up to at least 96kHz, but it always turns 7.1 channel audio into 5.1. It does not decode DTS-HD Master Audio, but instead uses the standard DTS ‘core’ within such audio tracks.
The unit was very poor with all 1080i material, though, when it came to 1080p output. The worst I’ve seen so far. The solution is to set the video output to ‘Auto’ rather than 1080p. This will deliver most Blu-ray movies over HDMI at 1080p24 – the ideal – if you have ‘Film Mode’ switched on. DVDs and 1080i material will be output at 1080i. That will leave it to your TV to deinterlace this material, and it will surely do a better job than this player.
Surprisingly, this unit was at the top end of the scale for picture quality from PAL DVDs (output at 1080i or 1080p) as far as Blu-ray players go. Speed-wise, it was about middle of the pack when it came to starting up, reading discs and the like.
The remote control was touchy with regard to range and angle, and even how quickly I pressed the keys, so sometimes the unit could be a little difficult to use. The front panel touch controls were also a bit iffy sometimes. But there’s little point bothering with the front panel control since there is no apparent way of putting the unit into Standby mode, nor switching it back on, without using the remote control!
Through a dozen Blu-ray discs, the player just chugged on, doing its stuff and not once skipping a frame or a digital audio sample. It was totally solid.
I would not hesitate to watch regular 1080p24 Blu-ray movies with this unit. It delivers good quality, does what it is supposed to do, and costs very little. And if you want purchase Blu-ray discs from the US, you can do so confidently with regard to region codes if you have this player.