Kogan unveils a cheap competitor to the iPad, says they probably won't make a 3D TV, and the Agora phone is NOT dead. Maybe.
If there's one thing that Ruslan Kogan understands, it's hype. He's arguably rather good at it, whether it's generating it himself or jumping onto a shift in consumer buying habits, from Blu-Ray players to Netbooks.
With all the hype surrounding the Apple iPad, it's perhaps not surprising that it's a bandwagon he's looking at joining himself, with an iPad competitor product. It's yet to be formally named -- we'd put money on the Kogan Pad perhaps -- but what's more surprising is the price he's planning to put on it.
Less than $200 is his claim. Showing off a demonstration model (which was at the time of demonstration, sadly flat; we hope to have an actual powered demo later on) at the MediaConnect Kickstart forum in Queensland today, he claimed it had Full HD capability, an ARM 600MHz processor, 512MB of RAM and 2GB built in memory, with the option of expansion via SDHC card slot. The screen on the demo model is a resistive type, but Kogan's claim is that any production model would use a capacitive display screen.
When it comes to the underlying operating system, users will have a choice. The demonstration model (so Kogan claims; remember there's been no opportunity for a live demo) runs Ubuntu, Android and Windows, but Kogan's claim is that "We're probably going to drop Windows" because "a Windows tablet would cost more like $300." Those aren't installation or order choices, but instead launched from a pre-boot menu. The display screen itself is relatively low resolution at 800x480 pixels, but the unit has HDMI output capability with support for 1080P.
Now, when you can you buy one? Well, that might be a while. Kogan's claim is that "We're capable of releasing it within a month", but he's holding off from doing so because he's not sure what good a Tablet actually is.
"I want to hear from people what they want. Apple has created a lot of hype around the iPad, but what are people actually going to do with it? I'm not sure who the ideal consumer is for it. Maybe my Mum, or my mates and me when we're around the TV watching funny YouTube clips."
While at least the Android side of the Pad will (or should that be may?) come with e-reader Apps, the one thing Kogan's not sold on is the usefulness of the Pad as an e-reader device, simply because it's backlit. "I don't see it as an ebook reader device. Any time you're staring at it, you're shining a light in your eyes."
Kogan's not a company that sits on a single possibly released product, however, with Kogan claiming that the company will release networked TVs "probably by the end of the year", and a Blu-Ray player with YouTube Widgets and inbuilt WiFi "soon". One technology in home AV he's not as convinced by is the big push towards 3D TV, though.
"I'm just not sure about it. Is it an at home entertainment option, or something you go to the movies for? I mean, if you're at home on the sofa with some chick and you want to make a move on her, your first move shouldn't have to be 'Hey! Let's take off our 3D glasses!'"
As to the status of the long-delayed Agora Android mobile phone, Kogan was rather more evasive.
"The Agora phone we will launch soon. I can't give a time frame on that, though. It'll be as soon as we're allowed to."
APCMag.com asked Kogan as to who they'd have to be allowed by, but was met with a rather solid response of "as soon as we're allowed." Make of that what you will.
Pics of the Kogan Pad on the next page.