Review: Kogan Agora Mini 8

The Kogan Agora Mini 8 is one of the cheapest Android tablets on the market

The Kogan Agora Mini 8 is one of the cheapest Android tablets on the market.

Design & display

The Agora Mini 8 is slightly larger than Apple's 7.9in iPad mini. Aside from the edges of the device being a little sharp, it's comfortable to hold and its weight feels evenly distributed.

The back of the tablet is flat but the smooth edges are rounded. The design is fine for single-handed use but being a little wider than the iPad mini means it may not suit users with small hands.

The build quality of the Agora 8 is poor. Both the bezel and the screen are extremely glossy and virtually impossible to keep free of fingerprints. The plastic screen is poorly laminated, as it lacks a consistent, smooth finish towards the edges.

The rear casing is also a fingerprint magnet that feels extremely hollow and it creaks when even minor pressure is applied. The overall feeling you're left with isn't one of good quality.

Ports are plentiful, starting with a back button and volume controls on the top, along with a power button, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a micro-USB port, a full-sized HDMI port, a DC charger input, a reset button (which needs to be pushed with the tip of a pen or paperclip), and a microSD card slot.

The Kogan Agora Mini 8's screen has reasonable viewing angles, produces accurate colours and text is clear enough to read. The resolution of 1024x768 is hardly groundbreaking but at this price it's really tough to complain.

The biggest issue with the Agora's display is that it isn't very bright, even at its highest setting. It's also ridiculously poor when in direct sunlight and the panel is very reflective, often making the screen hard to see. There's no automatic brightness setting, either.

Software & performance

The Kogan Agora Mini 8 runs the 4.1 Jelly Bean version of Google's Android operating system and is therefore capable of everything it promises. You can browse the Web, download apps through Google's Play Store, access services like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter and play games like Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja.

Performance is quite good for the price tag — the 1GB of RAM and 1.6GHz dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor keep things ticking over nicely. The Agora Mini 8 is reasonably fast during most basic tasks and is a huge improvement over Kogan's previous Android tablet, last year's sluggish Agora 10".

However, it can occasionally be unreliable and sometimes inconsistent. Apps, even Google ones like Gmail, occasionally crashed during our test period for no apparent reason. Startup time is also a little slow.

The default browser doesn't take too long to load pages, but pinching the screen to zoom in stutters and doesn't feel smooth. Similarly, scrolling through the home screens can often be jerky.

Perhaps the biggest issue is Wi-Fi performance. The Agora Mini 8 only managed two bars of signal in our office where most other devices manage four bars.

The Agora Mini 8 is perfectly capable of playing game titles like Jetpack Joyride and Angry Birds, even if you do occasionally notice the low frame rate. More taxing games, like Dead Trigger and GTA III, are also playable but we often experienced lag at various instances.

The Kogan Agora Mini 8 tablet comes with a few pre-loaded apps including AccuWeather, Apk Installer, an E-Book reader, a file explorer and a sound Recorder.

Camera & battery life

The Kogan Agora Mini 8's microSD card slot combined with the HDMI-out port makes it quite a flexible tablet. You also get two micro-USB ports, the second allowing the connection of a USB host device like a portable hard drive or a USB stick thanks to the USB connector that's included in the box.

We had success transferring files to the Agora Mini 8 with a USB stick, but our portable hard drive didn't connect. We also found that the USB connector lost contact when it was wiggled and didn't feel very sturdy when plugged in.

The Kogan Agora Mini 8 doesn't have a rear camera but comes with a front-facing VGA front camera for video calls. The camera naturally takes appalling photos but works reasonably well with video calling apps like Skype and Tango.

The Kogan Agora Mini 8 tablet doesn't charge through the micro-USB connection and needs to be charged using a supplied DC adapter.

Battery life from the 4300mAh battery is fairly poor. We could only manage a best figure of just over four hours. Keep in mind that you should manage slightly more if you keep the screen brightness turned down.

The Kogan Agora Mini 8 is available now in 8GB and 16GB models for $119 and $129, respectively, along with a standard $19 delivery charge to most Australian locations.

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