kogan agora wireless performance (VT6656 Via Arena adapter)


My kogan agora pro has just returned from six weeks abroad, where is was regularly put to the test booking flights, trains, accommodation and other general duties.

There are many great things to like about travelling with the agora netbook – it is light and easy to carry in a backpack, the battery life was good and only needed charging every few days, and on flights it makes a great video player to pass the time.

There is also a downside – the under-performance of the wireless network adapter. On many occasions at hotels and in pubs and restaurants I was unable to connect to the free wifi on offer. Some networks were visible in the network manager but I could not connect to them, whilst other networks would simply not appear in the available list. Very frustrating!

Viewing the syslog often revealed that dhclient struggled to receive a DHCP response from the access point (AP), even though connection negotiation had commenced. dhclient would timeout, and end the connection negotiations. The following is an example from syslog:

NetworkManager: Activation (eth1) starting connection ‘Auto FreeWifi’

NetworkManager: Activation (eth1/wireless): connection ‘Auto FreeWifi’ requires no security. No secrets needed.

NetworkManager: Activation (eth1/wireless) Stage 2 of 5 (Device Configure) successful. Connected to wireless network ‘FreeWifi’.

dhclient: Internet Systems Consortium DHCP Client V3.1.1

dhclient: DHCPDISCOVER on eth1 to port 67 interval 4
dhclient: DHCPDISCOVER on eth1 to port 67 interval 8
dhclient: DHCPDISCOVER on eth1 to port 67 interval 18
dhclient: DHCPDISCOVER on eth1 to port 67 interval 20
NetworkManager: Device ‘eth1′ DHCP transaction took too long (>45s), stopping it.
NetworkManager: eth1: canceled DHCP transaction, dhcp client pid 3410

Often if I moved closer to where the AP was physically located, I would be able to connect – but I had to be within around 10 meters. This is wireless, not bluetooth! The difference between 20 meters and 10 meters should not limit my ability to connect.

Now that my agora pro is home, I have done some simple tests and compared them to a Dell laptop. Looking at the available wireless networks on each laptop side by side, I immediately noticed that whilst the Dell could see my AP as well as the APs of three neighbours, the kogan agora could only see my AP (see screenshots below). Even though I live in suburbia and the neighbours are only over the fence, their APs are out of range for the agora.

Also, using the iwlist program, I was able to check the signal strength of my AP from each laptop. First up, the Dell:

ESSID:”g.kayno.net” Quality=39/100 Signal level=-77 dBm
ESSID:”BigPond7178″ Quality=31/100 Signal level=-81 dBm
ESSID:”Sky Captain” Quality=33/100 Signal level=-80 dBm

Followed by the kogan agora pro:

ESSID:”g.kayno.net” Quality=25/100 Signal level=-80 dBm

The agora comes in slightly lower, however no matter how many different locations around my home I try, I cannot see the neighbour’s APs.

I have been told by Neerav Bhatt that the latest batch of agora netbooks from kogan have a new wireless card with a Ralink chipset that addresses the performance problems. If anyone has recently brought a kogan agora netbook, and has the new card, please comment below on performance. I’d love to hear how well it works, and also see a photo!


This entry was posted in agora, agora pro, wireless by kayno. Bookmark the permalink.

13 thoughts on “kogan agora wireless performance (VT6656 Via Arena adapter)

  1. Hi Kayne,

    I have the new version kogan agora netbook (still running gOS…haven’t had time to do the upgrade to UNR yet) and decided to compare its performance against with my desktop pc (ubnutu 9.0.4) with a belkin usb dongle. So here are the results……

    My hardware info first up just to be sure…

    Desktop (ubuntu 9.0.4)

    Bus 001 Device 003: ID 050d:705c Belkin Components F5D7050 v4000 Wireless Adapter
    Device Descriptor:
    bLength 18
    bDescriptorType 1
    bcdUSB 2.00
    bDeviceClass 255 Vendor Specific Class
    bDeviceSubClass 255 Vendor Specific Subclass
    bDeviceProtocol 255 Vendor Specific Protocol
    bMaxPacketSize0 64
    idVendor 0x050d Belkin Components
    idProduct 0x705c F5D7050 v4000 Wireless Adapter

    Now the kogan (gOS)

    04:00.0 Ethernet controller: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL8101E PCI Express Fast Ethernet controller (rev 01)
    Subsystem: Unknown device 1b50:4605
    Flags: bus master, fast devsel, latency 0, IRQ 220
    I/O ports at 2000 [size=256]
    Memory at d0000000 (64-bit, non-prefetchable) [size=4K]
    [virtual] Expansion ROM at 88000000 [disabled] [size=128K]
    …… etc

    So there are a couple of wireless networks around where I am so let me paint a picture for you…
    1. My network (HallNetwork) – About 15 meters from the router with my door closed and about 3 walls to pass through.
    2. Netgear – Not sure where this puppy is but there seems to be one in every neighbourhood right? – It’s definitely further away than my one.

    First up the desktop with the usb dongle

    wlan2 Scan completed :
    Cell 01 – Address: MACFORNETGEAR
    Frequency:2.462 GHz (Channel 11)
    Quality=41/100 Signal level:11/100
    Encryption key:on

    Cell 02 – Address: MACFORHALLNETWORK
    Frequency:2.462 GHz (Channel 11)
    Quality=94/100 Signal level:23/100
    Encryption key:on

    Now for the agora kogan

    wlan0 IEEE 802.11g ESSID:”HallNetwork”
    Mode:Managed Frequency:2.462 GHz Access Point: MACFORHALLNETWORK
    Bit Rate=12 Mb/s Tx-Power=27 dBm
    Retry min limit:7 RTS thr:off Fragment thr=2346 B
    Link Quality=46/100 Signal level=-70 dBm

    As you can see the desktop belkin dongle recognisers the netgear network whilst the kogan does not. In summary:

    Kogan 46/100
    Desktop 97/100

    Kogan No signal

    I then plugged the belkin dongle into my kogan and here is what I got

    built in wireless card
    wlan0 Scan completed :
    Cell 01 – Address: HALLNETWORKMAC
    Frequency:2.462 GHz (Channel 11)
    Quality=48/100 Signal level=-70 dBm

    belkin usb dongle
    eth3 Scan completed :
    Cell 01 – Address: HALLNETWORKMAC
    Protocol:IEEE 802.11bg
    Frequency:2.462 GHz (Channel 11)
    Quality=100/100 Signal level=47/100
    Cell 02 – Address: NETGEARMAC
    Protocol:IEEE 802.11bg
    Frequency:2.462 GHz (Channel 11)
    Quality=100/100 Signal level=35/100

    As you can see the belkin usb dongle performed much better. To be honest I have had no trouble at all connecting to my Network with the kogan (with zero drop-outs), but from the performance results I think I’ll throw the usb dongle in the bag just for those really hard to reach networks….always better to be safe than sorry.

    PS I took a few snaps of the card so if you flick my your e-mail I will forward them on to you.

  2. I think if you email Kogan they should provide you an upgrade to the New Wi-Fi card? My gut feeling is that it is the antenna placement on the Agora which is inhibiting your performance. Also I find that the wireless is much better in Windows than gOS or Ubuntu

  3. Hi Mason

    Yep – I have contacted Kogan, and looks like they might send me a replacement out. Will see how it goes.

    Looking at the comment from Diesel, the newer card (seems to be a realtek) is still being out performed by a USB dongle (and i would have thought the internal card would have had a better antenna than a dongle).

    be interesting to see the results for the realtek card in ubuntu or even windows, however Diesel’s tests were complete and included the belkin dongle on gos, which still outperformed the internal card.

    Mason – have you pulled apart the kogan to check the antenna placement/details?

    Diesel – I have sent you an email with my address to send the photos too – thanks for the comprehensive tests and comments too!

  4. Hi Mason

    You are probably right – if two different cards under-perform a USB dongle, than the antenna is the most likely problem. I wonder though if there could be some other issue, poor shielding, problems with the mini-pci express slot, pci bus, etc…

    Hopefully I can get my hands on the new wifi card, and test it out and see if i have any more luck…


  5. Pingback: kogan sent me a replacement wireless network mini card « kogan agora netbook

  6. I’ve just taken my Agora Pro away for the first time. It’s only about a month old, so it has the newer wireless card.

    I too, was thoroughly unimpressed with the wireless performance, getting either weak, slow signals or hotspots that I knew were there simply not appearing in the list of network connections at all. This was using Ubuntu 9.04 and also 9.10 Release Candidate.

    Out of desperation, I tried a Windows partition, installed with the drivers that are available on the Kogan site. I was rewarded with a dramatic improvement in performance. A hotspot at Sydney airport was showing as 30% under Ubuntu, and was pig slow and kept disconnecting. Under Windows, it showed as 80% and was giving nice and fast download speeds. That’s on the same machine, sitting in the exact same seat. The same scenario was repeated in the Gold Coast.

    This is embarrassing for a Linux fan to admit, but I can only report what I saw.

  7. Hi, I have one of the Agoras that were going cheap with the 3 cell battery. I also have one of the original 7″ eeePC’s. The only complaint I have about the Agora is the wireless. I noticed that the wireless on my 7″ eee was way better than the Agora so seeing I was going to retire the eee I took the wireless card out of the eee and put it in the Agora, no real improvement in performance, could still see the base stations but couldn’t connect reliably.. I am running windows 7 on the Agora and it works excellently… I swapped the wireless back and now when I want to use wireless I use a USB NETCOMM modem…. with which I get slightly better performance than the wireless on the eee. Can any of you tell me what battery life you get out of the 6 cell?
    Cheers & thanks for the information… Michael

  8. Hi Michael

    your test (swapping the eee’s wifi card into the agora) adds more weight to the antenna being at fault in the agora.

    I get just under 4hrs with the 6 cell battery.

  9. Hi Kayno,

    Thank you for the reply 4 hrs sound good. I ran the wireless under Linux and under Windows 7 and the performance was about the same…. not good was very easy to manage in linux though. The sound however is much much better under windows 7 – you can actually hear it…

  10. I picked up a USB wireless stick for $24 from MSY in Ultimo. (Dick Smith and co wanted $50 for one).

    I now have much better wireless performance under Ubuntu and Windows. The stick connects to hotspots that the internal card doesn’t even see.

    MSY actually had a wireless stick listed for only $12, but had none in stock when I visited.

  11. Pingback: Kogan Agora tablet wireless not working | kogan agora netbook

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