If you really want to fill the room with a decent sized picture, the 46in LCD is about as big as it realistically gets. While you can surely stretch the point to 60in or more, mortals’ living rooms soon get crowded by all that panel.
The Kogan KULED461HDAA is a 46in LCD TV offered by Australian direct-sales website Kogan. By cutting out steps of the distribution chain the company aims to offer Chinese consumer electronics to the customer at lower prices.
Where a screen of this size from a familiar brand might currently cost from around £700 and up, the Kogan KULED461HDAA is sold online for £519. The last full-featured 47in we reviewed was the LG 47LX6900, then priced around £2000.
The television includes a glass platform stand, with some limited swivel available, and a remote handset. The generic remote control gives many buttons beyond the essential Prog and Vol ±.
No instructions or manual were included with the set, nor offered to download; we had to figure out setup and functions ourself. We were later told that customers should be emailed a link to download a PDF manual.
Kogan KULED461HDAA: Build and style
This is a simply styled television, featuring full-HD resolution and Freeview HD tuner. The panel has a semi-matt finish and an impressively consistent image quality at different viewing angles.
Build quality is basic but functional, with de-rigeur high-gloss black plastic bezel and a short-pillared platform stand made from glass. The set is relatively thin, around 35mm at top and 45mm by the bottom, thanks to white LED edge-lighting.
Three HDMI, VGA, Component and Composite inputs are joined by one SCART, coaxial digital audio output and a headphone socket.
There’s also a mysterious ethernet port. Mysterious because the Kogan KULED461HDAA is in no way a ‘smart TV’, in other words one that can playback online content directly.
We wondered if it had a hidden function or is a relic of generic Chinese manufacturing, where some versions of the TV have built-in network capability. Kogan’s PR spokesperson believed the port may be for servicing.
Less equivocal is a USB port that can take a thumbdrive or hard disk; either for playback of stored video or to record broadcast Freeview programmes.
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We used a USB drive to pause live TV and record programmes, although the experience is something less than slick. The necessary remote control buttons are just too small and crammed together to easily press.
The on-screen guide when navigating recordings was haphazard, sometimes appearing when called, other times not. And coming out of pause mode was usually glitchy, stuttering rather than seamless.
On-board sound is from a small pair of speakers facing backwards, with 8W-rated amplifier. Sound quality is poor, akin to a loud speakerphone, with tinny midrange and no bass content whatsoever. Switching on the Surround option makes the sound slightly more bearable, at the expense of losing definition from the diffuse sound field.
Kogan KULED461HDAA: Image quality
Image quality was fair with static pictures but would deteriorate fast with much on-screen movement – more later on this subject. This panel can get incredibly bright, brighter than you’d ever need or want, and even at minimum setting we were still measuring 140cd/m2. By way of comparison, a comfortable level for a PC monitor is around 120cd/m2.
We calibrated the set first by eye for TV viewing, using the rudimentary OSD menu. Blacks could go very dark and deep, while whites stayed nearly incandescent. This panel certainly seemed to have a good contrast ratio judged subjectively.
Colours were harder to balance, and we never quite found a realistic setting for the all-important skintones from broadcast TV.
Used as a PC monitor, we tried calibrating with a Datacolor Spyder4Elite colorimeter. This process took out some of the searing blue-white glare of the panel, softening and yellowing the image, yet now skintones looked simply awful from replayed video – blotchy, palid and near sepia in tone.
Contrast ratio was good, measuring a maximum of 1600:1 at a 25% brightness setting. Brightness at 100% setting peaked at 294cd/m2, although contrast ratio by then fell to just 50:1.
In our colour depth tests, the panel could show 99% of sRBG colour gamut and 81% AdobeRGB, a good wide range.
The set includes what Kogan calls 100Hz MotionMax Technology to enhance picture quality. But to our eyes, the results were not pretty.
Fast panning left or rightwards would show some flashing break-up effects around object edges, while up-and-down movement could really accentuate the disturbing distortion further.
There was also an unsettling overall sense of unsmooth motion flow, most evident through HDMI input from a PC media-centre source. This would leave all motion somewhat mechanical, making TV from an external input look like as natural as a low-budget American daytime soap.
After our testing, we were informed that a firmware update is planned that will allow the user to dial down or even switch off the faulty motion processing.
The LCD panel is edge-lit by white LEDs, and while the first sample we received proved faulty – with massive bright bleedthrough across the screen top – the second sample was reasonably even.
We measured a large 30% variation in brightness across the panel, at a half-way brightness setting. You may not notice this variation so much when watching broadcast TV or video.
A strange dynamic contrast ratio-like effect was seen when using the screen as a PC monitor – moving a white window around the screen caused the wallpaper seen below to wildly fluctuate in brightness, flashing dark and bright. We also saw some high-rate flickering in brightness on occasions.
Freeview HD from the built-in tuner was a step-up in resolution from standard-definition broadcasts, as you’d hope, if not as pinsharp as HD should appear. But the improved resolution was ruined by audio lipsync issues, enough to make dialogue recognisable adrift from the actor’s voice. To our sensibilities, this made Freeview HD on the Kogan unwatchable.
Switching channels of any type is a slow process, the set taking three to four seconds with every button press to move up or down the channels.
In daily use, an intermittent issue arose from the automatic sleep timer. This was never set by ourselves but would neverthless occasionally present an on-screen warning, mid-TV viewing, that the set would power down in 60 seconds unless any remote-handset key was pressed.