Kogan LED55 review

Is this 55-inch LED, Freeview HD TV for £750 too good to be true?

TODO alt text

Kogan led55 review

It probably won't shock you too much to hear that the Kogan LED55 is hardly a classic performer where picture quality is concerned. After all, lest you've forgotten, it does only cost £999 for a 55-inch Edge LED TV. But is the Kogan LED55 good enough for its money?

Let's start with the good news. First, the picture is surprisingly bright, certainly brighter than the claimed 320cd/m2 brightness figure would have led us to expect. More proof - as if it were needed - that manufacturers' quoted specs really aren't worth the paper they're printed on.

Colours are quite boldly portrayed as well, and combine with what appears - initially at least - to be a pretty satisfying black level response. This latter attribute is a real surprise, since it tends to be pretty much a given with cheap LCD TVs that black levels are average, at best.

Yet here, aside from occasional moments when very dark scenes seem to take on a slight bluish glow, black colours on the Kogan LED55 really do look quite black, with relatively minimal amounts of the usual low-contrast greyness.

It should be said here that you'll need to rein in the Kogan LED55's brightness setting quite considerably (as low as 30-40 on its 1-100 scale) to get the best black level response. But even with brightness this low, you're not left with a picture that's devoid of vibrancy and punch.

The Kogan LED55's motion handling is in some ways better than is typical with budget TVs, too - at least in the sense that the usual motion blur is only moderate rather than excessive.

Kogan led55 review

Presumably this is down at least in part to the TV's 100Hz processing. However, this processing is also responsible for the Kogan LED55's single most aggravating flaw. Because while it might reduce motion blur, it also generates - especially when watching Blu-rays, oddly - some very obvious and distracting unwanted side-effects.

These include haloing around the edges of moving objects, flickering over fast-moving objects and general patches of shimmering and distortion.

Basically, the Kogan LED55's 100Hz engine is a bit of a mess. So you should just turn it off. Um, except you can't, because for some reason, Kogan has decided not to give you the option to deactivate it, so you're left with it on permanently, warts and all. This is a mistake.

Another issue with the Kogan LED55's pictures finds the backlight looking a bit inconsistent. All four corners of the screen, in particular, exhibit clear 'jets' of light creepage, unless you turn the brightness level right down to 30 or less. But there are other more subtle areas of inconsistency too.

Next to cause a little trouble are the Kogan LED55's colours. They're quite punchy, but they're not especially natural or subtle when it comes to portraying minute tonal shifts.

These issues are particularly apparent with skin tones, which look a bit yellowish or wan, as well as looking unnaturally smooth and monotone, with none of the subtle colour nuances and facial minutiae available that stop people looking like mannequins on better-specified TVs.

It doesn't help the skin tone issues, either, that the screen isn't particularly crisp when handling HD material. You can see a step up from standard definition pictures, but the step up isn't as pronounced as it ideally would be on a Full HD 55-inch LED TV. Ramping up the set's sharpness setting can improve the sense of crispness, but only at the expense of an increase in picture noise.

Very bright scenes, meanwhile, look a bit flared out at times, as if the screen can't resolve small differences in white tones.

Input lag measurements from the Kogan LED55 also fluctuate between a respectable 40ms and a disappointing 70ms, resulting in an average figure of 52ms that appeared to marginally reduce our Call of Duty skills.