Now that the home entertainment market has moved towards streaming video services and Blu-ray content, there has never been a better time to convert DVD collections to digital.
Medion Akoya E6228 (MD99050) notebook review
Medion's latest Akoya laptop is a fine model to consider if you're on a budget, yet want good performance and features
- Good performance for the price
- Lots of hard drive space
- USB 3.0, HDMI and digital TV dongle
- Slow hard drive
- Rattly sound when typing
Medion's latest Akoya E6228 is an Intel Core i3-based notebook with a sub-$600 price tag. It offers good performance and features for this price and its battery life is great, too. It's a model that's well worth considering if you're in the market for a budget laptop. The Akoya goes on sale at Aldi supermarkets on 18 August.
Price$ 569.00 (AUD)
It's that time again, when Aldi supermarkets get a fresh shipment of Medion laptops to sell at a bargain price. The latest model, which goes on sale Saturday 18 August, is the Medion Akoya E6228 (MD99050). It's a notebook that relies on a second generation Intel Core i3 CPU rather than a brand new third generation CPU, but it's hard to knock it because of that. After all, it has a price tag of $569 — $30 cheaper than the last E6228 that we reviewed in April (the MD98980). It's a 15.6in laptop that's suitable for everyday Web surfing, office tasks and even some media encoding (converting movie files for use on your phone, for example) and it has a set of features that's very good considering the low price point.
Specifications and performance
Along with an Intel Core i3-2370M CPU, which runs at 2.4GHz and has two cores plus Hyper-Threading, the Akoya ships with 4GB of DDR3 SDRAM, a 750GB hard drive and it uses Intel HD 3000 graphics. This configuration is slightly different to the one that we saw in the Akoya E6628 (MD98980) laptop back April. The CPU is 100MHz faster and the hard drive has 250GB more space, but the amount of RAM is 4GB less — the old model had a 2.3GHz Core i3-2350M CPU, a 500GB hard drive and 8GB of RAM.
The slightly faster CPU allowed the system to put up times of 50sec and 60sec in our Blender 3D rendering and iTunes MP3 encoding tests, respectively, which is 2sec and 10sec faster than the previous Akoya. They are also times that are comparable to what an Ultrabook with an ultra-low voltage third generation Intel Core i7 CPU can achieve, for example. The CPU in the Medion is not a low-voltage model — it doesn't need to be because the chassis is so large — and that's why it is able to put up such competitive performance numbers. In tougher tasks though, such as our AutoGordianKnot DVD-to-Xvid conversion test, a time of 1hr 8min was achieved. This is a slower time than the previous Akoya, which got 1hr 5min, and part of this slow performance can be attributed to the lower amount of RAM and slower hard drive.
In our file duplication tests, the 5400rpm, 750GB hard drive recorded a rate of only 24.36 megabytes per second (MBps), which is about 15MBps slower than what the 5400rpm, 500GB hard drive in the previous Akoya E6228 managed. This sluggishness was also confirmed in the CrystalDiskMark test, which recorded a read rate of 78.91MBps and a write rate of 76.92MBps. That said, the 750GB hard drive in this model is faster than the 750GB drive that we saw in the Akoya E6224, which got 18.43MBps in our duplication tests.
Graphics performance in this notebook is slow. In 3DMark06, a score of only 3405 was achieved, which means that you can't really use this laptop for playing games — unless they happen to be older titles and you play them at low detail and resolution settings. Don't pick up this laptop thinking it will be good for gaming though.
Despite being a big and inexpensive laptop, the Akoya has a 63 Watt-hour battery and it can supply a long life away from an outlet. In our rundown test, in which we disable power management, enable Wi-Fi, maximise screen brightness and loop an Xvid-encoded video, the Akoya lasted 4hr 4min, which is an improvement of almost one hour over the previous model — that model had a 47 Watt-hour battery. It's great for watching movies or browsing the Web on the laptop without having to sit near a power point, and you can get a little more life out of the battery if you employ a power management scheme and lower screen brightness, for example.
Design and user comfort
At 2.6kg, the Akoya E6228 isn't a lightweight, but it also isn't heavy for its size. It's bulky though, which can make it difficult to carry with you on a regular basis. The base is 40mm thick, and the chassis is 380mm wide and 260mm deep. You can use the notebook on your laptop if you like — it doesn't get too warm, even if it has been working hard for a while — but you'll have to look out for the rubber feet and a couple of plastic protrusions on the base that can dig into your thighs.
The style and layout of this laptop is the same as previous Akoya laptops, which is to say that it looks good and is reasonably well built considering it's a budget model. The palm rest is smooth and has a brushed look to it, there is no gloss on the chassis or on the screen's bezel, and there is a good array of features along the sides. It includes a built-in DVD burner, an SD card slot, two USB 2.0 ports and two USB 3.0 ports (on opposing sides of the chassis), VGA, Gigabit Ethernet, headphone and microphone ports, and an HDMI port. Bluetooth is present, as is an Intel Centrino Wireless-N 2230 module that supports Intel WiDi (wireless display).
The keyboard has chiclet-style keys that are large and comfortable to hit. They offer a good amount of travel and responsiveness and are easy to work with during long typing sessions. However, the notebook does make a rattling sound as the keys are hit, which can be a little annoying. The number pad is squished into the right side of the keyboard — it has only three columns, with the zero key located directly under the one key and the enter key situated under the two and three keys. We're not fans of the arrow keys, and especially the up and down arrows, which are way too small to be comfortably usable.
An 81x49mm Synaptics touchpad is installed, which isn't very big compared to many other laptops on the market, and it has dedicated left- and right-click buttons — they make a loud clicking sound when pressed. The touchpad supports two-finger scrolling and three-finger flicks, which worked perfectly for us. Overall, the touchpad was accurate and responsive during our tests, although we did have to disable the ChiralMotion scrolling feature because many simple navigation motions were misinterpreted by the pad as being attempts at ChiralMotion.
The screen has a matte finish, which is great as it means that reflections won't be a problem while you work or watch videos. However, the contrast isn't great and the vertical viewing angles, like most laptops on the market, are too narrow. We often found ourselves tilting the screen in order to bring out details in videos and photos. The native resolution is 1366x768, which is standard for mainstream, 15.6in laptops. There is an HDMI port though, so you can plug the notebook into a big screen TV or compatible monitor if you wish.
Speakers are located just in front of the screen, but they aren't great. In fact, their sound is dull and weak. For watching a YouTube video now and then they are fine, but you're better off plugging in some headphone or external speakers when you want to listen to music or watch movies or TV shows.
Watch digital TV on your laptop
Medion supplies a USB-based digital TV tuner with this laptop, and it'll need to be set up first through Windows Media Centre before you can begin watching TV. The antenna connection on the USB stick is full-sized, which is great because it means there is no adapter to potentially lose and you can plug in your regular cable from your rooftop antenna (for best results). By the same token, it also means that the cable that plugs into the adapter can be cumbersome. A portable antenna is supplied with the adapter as well, but the effectiveness of this antenna will vary depending on your area and environment. It could only pick up three channels properly (ABC, Seven and Ten) when tested in our North Sydney location.
Watching digital TV on the Medion's screen was fairly enjoyable, especially HD content, although we had to adjust the screen's tilt to get the contrast right, depending on how we were sitting. A remote control isn't provided, so you'll have to use the touchpad or keyboard to make channel changes.
It can be hard to find Intel Core i3-based notebooks for under $600, with most notebooks using less powerful CPUs at this price point. In this respect, the Medion Akoya stacks up well against Core i3-based offerings from the likes of ASUS and Lenovo at this price point, supplying a good amount of RAM, plenty of storage, and niceties such as a digital TV tuner and a large battery as well. It's well worth considering the Akoya, but you might have to be quick as Aldi supermarkets generally only get limited quantities of these notebooks.
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