Tag: Kogan

Kogan are offering a highly-capable USB dock for $120

Article – From the horse’s mouth


Wavlink USB 3.0 Multi-task Universal Laptop Docking Station & Hub (WL-UG39DK1) (Product Page)


USB 3.0 Universal Docking Station Dual Video Monitor Display

My Comments

I had come across in my email a Kogan ad where they were offering a highly-capable USB dock with integrated video support for 2 displays. Here, they are offering the product for AUD$120 including tax but excluding shipping.

This device has 2 USB 3.0 ports and 4 USB 2.0 ports, which can come in handy with a mix of USB input devices and USB storage devices along with an integrated USB sound module and USB-Gigabit-Ethernet network adaptor.

For video, there is a DVI connection and an HDMI connection for displays that work to DVI or HDMI specifications. From the manufacturer’s site, there is also meant to be a DVI-VGA adaptor so you can use it with that VGA-only display or projector. This functionality is supported according to Displaylink standards for USB-video adaptors.

It is targeted at laptop users who use current-spec laptops but want to maintain a desktop workspace with “full-bore” peripherals like full-sized input devices or larger monitors, let alone a reliable Ethernet or HomePlug AV500 connection to the network. Here, the idea is that a person who uses a “work-home” laptop can quickly connect and disconnect the laptop to and from this expansion module using one plug while all the peripherals are in place, connected to this device.

In some cases, it can also be of benefit to those of us who use small desktop computers like all-in-ones or “Next Unit Of Computing” devices where there isn’t much in the way of connectivity; or for those of us who carry around a laptop that doesn’t have much in the way of external-device connectivity but don’t want to worry about losing adaptors left right and centre when you move from place to place.

The Ruslan Kogan vs Gerry Harvey debacle – how I see it

I have reviewed and currently own a Kogan Internet radio and also know of someone else who owns the same radio and a picture frame under this same label. As well, I have known Kogan as being a name associated with cost-effective LCD TVs sold directly through the Internet.

Kogan Internet table radio

Kogan Internet table radio

Compare this with Harvey Norman, those big “category-killer” furniture / domestic-appliance / consumer-electronics superstores appearing in nearly every Australian city and you watching those TV ads where you hear someone shouting like a race-caller about the way you can buy new furniture, appliances or consumer electronics on varying “no-deposit no-interest” credit packages.

Here I have observed the debate put forward by Ruslan Kogan who founded and owns Kogan with Gerry Harvey who founded Harvey Norman and Ruslan had put up the issue of his low-cost direct-market operation while Gerry had put forward the idea of people being more comfortable with buying the “big-brand” equipment off the retail floor at a chain store.

Tandy Electronics and the Realistic brand

Another company I always have thought of in this context concerning Ruslan Kogan and Gerry Harvey was Tandy Electronics, known as Radio Shack in the USA, at its peak through the 1970s and the 1980s. Here, this company had built a strong business on selling electronics parts, computers, electronics books and similar goods made under their own labels through mail-order or any of the many company-managed stores that appeared in many US towns, Australian cities and other company-managed retail locations around the world.

One major brand that stood out in my mind so clearly was “Realistic”. This brand was known for an ever-changing line-up of cost-effective consumer electronics that did the job properly and reliably. The keynote products that I and others would have associated with this brand were the STA-series stereo hi-fi receivers. Each year, there were at least 10 different receiver models with varying power outputs and levels of functionality with even the cheapest unit offering an expected level of functionality (support for 1 record player, 1 aux input, separate loop for 1 recording device, 2 speaker pairs) even though it was positioned as an entry-level unit.

I have personally used or seen in use many of the Realistic consumer-electronics equipment and have found that it could do the job very adequately at a very reasonable price and have found it to be a brand that one is not “ashamed to use”. For example, I had seen the Realistic MPA-20 public-address amplifier in use at an “open day” which a friend was hosting at their rose farm in 1999 and this was part of a PA system that was on loan from their local Country Fire Authority.

Realistic car stereo radio-cassette (12-1892) - 1981 catalog shot - RadioShackCatalogs.com

Realistic car stereo cited in this article

Similarly, I had used two examples of this entry-level “fast-forward-eject” car radio-cassette (catalogue number 12-1892), that is illustrated here and that was put on the market in 1980. The first example that I had used in February 1981 was installed on an old friend’s car, close to that month and was good on the tape with an earlier mixtape that I had. and, through subsequent uses was good on both radio bands and with many other tapes. The other examples that was installed in a lemon of a car that another  friend was duped in to buying in 1993 by a smooth-talking mechanic. This example had  played a recently-recorded mixtape of mine very reliably without the usual problems associated with this class of cassette player. I have also used and seen in use some hi-fi systems with Realistic components and the owners weren’t ashamed of using this equipment that was under this brand.

Therefore I have held the Realistic brand that was developed by Tandy Electronics as an example of how Ruslan Kogan could develop the Kogan brand further by running a good line of consumer electronics that works properly to the letter yet each unit is at a price point that yields more “bang for the buck” and satisfies the customer’s need properly.

Attitudes to Direct-Sales / Mail-Order Purchasing and “Clean-Skin” / “White-Box” products

As well, I have heard and read a lot about purchasing of goods from sources other than “bricks-and-mortar” stores of major chains being a common and accepted practice in the USA.

This can be in the form of buying through mail-order, over the phone or (nowadays) via the Internet with reference to large paper catalogues or, for Internet-based purchasing, the vendor’s Website. The likes of Sears and Amazon have started off in that country based on this trend and some outlets like Sears, Sharper Image and Victoria’s Secret have built their name around these catalogues even though some of them operate traditional retail floor-space. But there is a different attitude shown by most Australian customers when it comes to buying goods like consumer electronics. A lot of them feel more comfortable looking at the goods in action on the retail floor rather than reading about them in a catalogue or Website.

Similarly, there is an acceptance for private labels and “clean-skin” / “white-box” products in the USA where goods or consumables made by an original or well-known manufacturer are repackaged by distributors or retailers under the distributor’s or retailer’s own label either to provide an affordable product or one that is positioned in to the shop’s market. A large number of the Australian retailers do use private labels but, save for a few exceptions in the premium-goods sector, most of these labels aren’t considered any worth and are only seen as being for cheapskates.

As well, in Australia there isn’t much encouragement for packaging “original-brand” goods  as “clean-skin” or “white-box” methods especially if the goods are sold through common retail outlets. Similarly, most people don’t think of visiting independent retailers for most of their technology purchasing needs. This has usually been brought about by the arrival of “category-killer” retail chains which rely heavily on large stores located primarily in the suburbs where land is cheap alongside highly-saturated television-advertising campaigns centred around flashy graphics and announcers that sound like race-callers at a horse race and use of catalogues full of flashy graphics shoved in letter-boxes or inserted in to tabloid newspapers.

Exceptions to this rule that may happen include goods sold to the trade specifically for on-selling to customers as part of an installation or maintenance job, independent retailers selling “clean-skin” parts and accessories “loose” or in minimal packaging or independent computer resellers supplying “white-box” desktop computers that they build on their own premises.

Educational competence influencing purchasing practices

This rule may also be affected by the education level or technical competence of the customer where the customers who are more likely to be educated and / or technically competent are more likely to be astute when it comes to buying consumer goods. Therefore they are more likely to discriminate between the kind of goods available and show interest in and subsequently accept private labels, direct-sales / mail-order purchasing and independent retailers.

This fact is typically represented by the kinds of shops that make up shopping centres that exist in poorer neighbourhoods, where a lot of space is dedicated to larger “big-box” chain stores like Harvey-Norman and K-Mart whereas neighbourhoods that are more likely to be occupied by educated consumers are likely to have more strip shopping centres filled with independent retailers.


This debate between Ruslan Kogan and Gerry Harvey has put a lot more in to context when it comes to computer and consumer-electronics retail especially as the connected home becomes a reality and people will want to consider acquiring “connected” consumer electronics over the years.

BBC reception problem now rectified for Kogan Internet radios

Kogan Internet table radio

Kogan Internet table radio - BBC updates now available

Over the last few months, those of you who own a Kogan Internet/DAB+/FM table radio, which I have reviewed in this blog in November, wouldn’t have been able to receive any Internet radio services from the BBC. It may be of concern to UK expats or Anglophiles who have bought this radio primarily to listen to the sound of the BBC radio stations that broadcast there like BBC Radio 4. The symptom was typically in the form of the radio showing “Network Error” when you select a BBC radio service. This was because the BBC were doing a technical re-engineering of their online radio streams and were moving away from the original Real-Audio streams to newer technologies.

vTuner had updated their “master” Internet radio directory which services Frontier-based sets as well as a lot of other Internet-radio designs to reflect the BBC changes. The set manufacturers had to then roll out the updates to each of their set designs through the over-the-air updates. In the case of this Kogan table radio, it took a frustrating long time for the update to materialise because the OEM who makes these sets had to make sure it was working properly before releasing the update.

As of 18/03/2010, Kogan have rolled out the updated directory to these radios and next time you turn on the set and select “Internet radio”, you will have an “update notice” appear on the display. Press the INFO button in response to this “update notice” and wait for the update to complete. The radio must not be disconnected from the power at all during this process. The progress of the update is highlighted with a “fuel gauge” bar that appears on the bottom row of the display and when the set is updated, the display will show “Press SELECT to continue”. At this point, press the large “tuning knob”, and the set will restart and, a while later, the last Internet radio station that you listened to will play.

Then you can tune to the BBC stations using the menu system or recall any BBC stations that you previously allocated to the preset buttons. This update does not affect any other functionality or personal settings that you have established when using this set.

If you had bought one of these radios and the BBC reception problem had made you think of returning the radio to Kogan, now you don’t need to do so because of this update/

Product Review – Kogan Wi-Fi Internet Table Radio with iPod Dock (Frontier Internet Radio Platform)


Kogan Internet radio

Kogan is an Australia company who are selling good-quality value-priced consumer electronics like LCD TVs in a manner that is considered common in the USA but rare in Australia. It is to sell the goods under their own brand through what used to be known as mail-order. You can buy equipment like this Internet table radio by visiting their Website or calling 1300 304 292.

The set, which is sold direct for $169 excluding delivery but including Australian GST, looks like a mantel radio made during the late 70s just before that style of radio went out of fashion and has a generous-sized front-facing speaker behind a mesh grille. An iPod or a USB memory stick can be connected to sockets installed on the top of the set.

The set is powered from the mains through a small AC adaptor but the adaptor that came with the review sample had something that can be annoying if you were to properly switch it on or off at the wall, because it sticks upwards.


The set has an iPod dock which can work with most of the Apple iPod range; and a USB port for connecting USB memory keys, MP3 players and other devices that present themselves as USB Mass-Storage Devices. This port may be better placed on the front or back of the radio so as to avoid dust, crumbs and other nasties falling in to the set and causing unreliable operation with USB devices.

It also has a 3.5mm jack for connecting up another MP3 player, Discman or similar device to play through the built-in speaker; and has a 3.5mm headphone jack which can also be used to play the set through a pair of better-sounding active speakers.


When you unpack the set, you don’t get the instruction manual as part of the packaging. Instead, you have to go to the support section of Kogan’s web site to download the manual as a PDF file.Kogan Internet radio - close-up

There are some issues that affect the way you integrate the radio to the Wi-Fi home network. One is that there needs to be a clear indication for “enter” to confirm the WPA-PSK key and another clear indication for “backspace delete” of erroneous characters.

As well, you have to make sure that your router’s wireless-network security is working in a “pure” WEP or WPA-PSK mode rather than a “compatibility mode” that may be common on some routers made when WPA just started to come in as a Wi-Fi link-level security option.

Once the radio is on the home network, everything is effectively “plain sailing”. The unit can be set up to get the time from the Internet, but you have to determine the time zone yourself by going to the Main Menu – System Settings – Clock Settings option. You will also have to change the time zone by an hour every time we switch from standard time to daylight-saving time. For example, in Sydney and Melbourne, you would have to set the Time Zone to +10 during Standard Time and to +11 during Summer Time. This may be rectified in a future firmware update for this set.

As far as the DAB (digital radio) operation goes, there isn’t a “clean-up and scan” routine available. Typically you have to do the “full scan” routine which adds new stations to the multiplex roster. This was annoying because the review sample, like the Revo iBlik RS clock radio reviewed in a separate review, had come down from Sydney and had references to the Sydney DAB multiplexes and stations. It can also be a headache for those of us who move between towns, or if there is a situation where the DAB multiplexes are being re-organised.


The menus on the set are mainly navigated through the use of the tuning control which you turn to select the option and press to confirm the selection. There is a “Back” button to go back through the menus if you need to do so. The volume is adjusted with a smaller knob rather than “up-down” buttons. You change between FM, DAB, Internet Radio, Media Player, USB, iPod and Aux modes by pressing a MODE button. This control arrangement  makes the set appeal to be easier and comfortable for older people to use and makes you think of it as a proper radio.

Access to Internet radio stations is through an integrated directory that is regularly updated. You can select stations by “home area”, “country” or genre. I did a test to find Heart 106.2 London, a radio station that I often listen to over the Internet. Here, I went to “all stations”, then “country”, then “Europe”, then “United Kingdom” to filter for UK radio stations. After that, I went to all stations and browsed the list of UK stations to find “Heart London”.

There are five preset buttons which you can assign to a station in each of the radio modes. This means you have 5 FM stations, 5 DAB stations and 5 Internet radio stations held as “one-touch” presets You associate the button with the currently-playing station in the same manner as most car radios that are currently in use i.e.: hold the button for around 10 seconds until the display shows that the station is with the preset.

The radio also works well as a DLNA network audio player with the ability to honour the UPnP AV Media Server’s media hierarchy. It even worked well with playing music hosted on my computer by allowing a smooth playout experience. One main problem was that the transport keys such as the play-pause button didn’t work for the network media stream.

The radio does work well as an iPod speaker dock and the function keys worked properly when navigating the iPod’s content. I also attempted to adjust the volume from the iPod, but the sound came through at the same level, thus requiring you to use the radio’s volume control to adjust the sound.

Sound quality

The sound was something typical of either a classic mantel radio or one of those mono radio-cassette recorders made during the 1970s. There isn’t any way to adjust the tone on the set, whether through the menus or a separate control. There is still some “punchiness” in the sound but not the full bass expected by today’s young generation. A difficult-to-reproduce piece like the BBC brass-band rendition of “God Save The Queen” played at the end of the day (UK time) on Radio 4 may sound “difficult” at times. For talk-radio broadcasts, the sound is clear and intelligible whether turned up loud or at a modest listening level.

The sound volume is relatively loud, thus allowing the set to fill a room with its sound and can compete with a noisy appliance operated nearby. I even ran our noisy rangehood fan while the set was playing and it could easily compete with that. This means that it could work well at “belting out the tunes” in a takeaway-food shop, café or similar establishment.

Fit and finish

I have observed that this unit has avoided fingermark-attractive “gloss” finishes but this may be considered as a set that is dull and boring. But this also has been a bonus with a review unit that has “done the rounds” and been handled by many reviewers. This would be a bonus for radios that are likely to be handled by many users or spend their working life in a kitchen.

When I bought my own one of these sets, I had it working as a “utility radio” for the household and at times had seen it used in a workshop and outdoors while there was carpentry work going on. This hasn’t had any impact on the set’s finish or operation.

Points of improvement and product-class development

Connectivity improvements

The 3.5mm headphone jack could be positioned up front so as to allow “walk-up” headphone use and could be set to override a 3.5mm external-output jack on the back as well as the built-in speaker. The role of this rear-mounted jack could be determined by a menu option as a “line-out” jack independent of the volume control and headphone jack or an “external speaker” jack that is dependent on the volume control that can be set to either run with or override the internal speaker. This would allow Kogan to supply a “right-channel” active speaker as an accessory thus causing the radio to become a 2-piece stereo radio.

The manufacturers could relocate the USB port to the front of the set thus removing the risk of problems associated with dust and foreign objects falling in to the top-mounted USB socket.

Improved display

The display could be improved as far as legibility goes. It could be a high-contrast LCD with a strong LED-array backlight. Some other reviewers wanted to see a variable backlight display, which could make the set fit for use in a bedroom. This would be best executed with a backlight setting for standby use and a setting for whenever the set is in operation.

Possibility of tone control

There could be the possibility of some form of tone control, not just as a “bass-boost” option. This could be in the form of the classic “tone” control knob used on older sets which provided a bass-rich sound at the low setting and a bright treble-rich sound at the high setting.

WiFi connectivity improvements

Some users may take one of these sets between multiple locations like home and work or home and a friend’s house or holiday home; as I have often seen with some clock radios and portable radios. An improvement that I would like to see would be to allow the user to have up to eight “network profiles” stored in the radio, like what happens with computers and mobile phones. There could be an SSID and WEP/WPA passphrase associated with each of the profiles so the set doesn’t have to be reconfigured when it is taken between regular locations.

Similarly the set could support WPS “quick-connect” options so as to avoid messing with “pick-and-choose” WPA passphrase entry.

Conclusion and Best Placing

This set would be best suited as a radio you may use in a small office, household kitchen, small shop or waiting room at a doctor’s or lawyer’s office. It is also a set worth considering for the workshop or garage even though it is as loud is most typical clock radios because of the fact its finish isn’t susceptible to these working environments. It wouldn’t be appropriate in the bedroom as a replacement for that old clock radio because the set would be too big for a bedside table, the display is too bright even when switched off and the alarm-clock functionality isn’t easily accessible.

I also applaud Kogan for providing a tabletop Internet radio that is positioned at a price that most people can afford and this could be a way for them to cut in to the premium table radio scene. They could go further with a unit that has two speakers, a portable DAB+/Internet radio that can run on batteries or AC, or a tuner that can pick up FM, DAB+ and Internet radio; with all these sets being capable of playing audio from DLNA Home Media Networks.

But I would still recommend the Kogan Wi-Fi Digital Radio with iPod Dock as a value-priced entry-level DAB/Internet radio for situations such as your first Internet radio or when giving someone an Internet radio as a gift. It may also be a good excuse to ditch that tired old radio in the kitchen or office for something that offers a lot more.

Purchase online:
Kogan Web site

I have had this set on loan for a week courtesy of Kogan and their public-relations company, Profession Public Relations. As well, Professional Public Relations have offered the set for sale to me at a reduced price as per their standard practice with media and I had taken up this offer.

The review has been updated with further notes from my experience with this set and may help with your purchasing decisions.