The Kogan Atlas X1510 is a very plain-looking laptop, unadorned without any conspicuous design flourishes and with only a Kogan badge stencilled on the lid and under the screen. The unit’s plastic chassis has a good feel to it, but rings a little hollow when tapped. Its keyboard is functional, but could use a little more height and spring to the keys. Its 15.6-inch, 1,366 x 768-pixel display gets the job done, but its lowish contrast crushes light colours together and therefore loses some fine detail — and it has a very definitive comfort zone in terms of viewing angle, needing to be tilted just-so to avoid washing out. The built in 0.3MP webcam is… well, it’s a webcam all right, but one that, even in good light, tends to have such poor contrast that it makes your eyes and mouth look like dense, black featureless holes. It’s a little bit creepy.
Yet despite all those gripes, it’s honestly hard to complain about this super-cheap $329 laptop from Aussie online retailer Kogan. It checks all the boxes in terms of basic features, with a quad-core Intel Pentium N3540 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive, all running Windows 8.1 with Bing. The latter’s a virtually-free (depending on who you ask) version of Microsoft’s OS — and it helps explain one way Kogan’s managed to shave down the price so low on this machine. Windows 8.1 with Bing is, however, functionally identical to the regular version, the only caveat being that laptop makers must leave Microsoft’s Bing configured as the default search engine. As the consumer, though, you can always change this after purchase — to Google, Yahoo or anything you want.
Bang for your buck
All that adds up to a laptop that’s perfectly adequate for any normal day-to-day task barring hardcore gaming, be that surfing the internet, word processing, streaming videos or editing the occasional photo. It won’t win any awards for speed — some applications take a good 20-30 seconds to load up, and if you’re looking for a laptop to re-encode movies to watch on your smartphone or tablet, we’d definitely consider spruiking for something with more grunt.
Even the comparatively small battery doesn’t actually disappoint. It’s only three cells, but as the Pentium processor driving the show’s not particularly power-hungry, that’s enough to keep the whole system running for around 5-6 hours between charges. And that battery’s also removable, meaning that when it eventually dies you’ll be able to swap it out for a new one without the hassle of returning it to Kogan.
It’s even well stocked with inputs and outputs, with 802.11ac Wi-Fi, HDMI and VGA video outputs, four USB ports (one of which is USB 3.0), 100Mbps Ethernet, 3.5mm audio in and out and even an SD card slot.
In short, provided you go in with suitably-tempered expectations, the Atlas X1510 is a surprisingly good-value budget laptop — and one that punches well, well above its $329 price tag.
Verdict: It’s basic and plain, but Kogan’s budget laptop does everything you need at a very keen price.