So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Medion Akoya MD98330 notebook
An affordable Medion notebook that can be used for everything -- except gaming
- Comfortable to use, only 2.5kg, good battery life, USB HD TV tuner, HDMI
- Body is a little creaky, USB 2.0 ports located too close to power connector
If you're looking for an affordable notebook, it's hard to go past the Medion Akoya MD98330, which has plenty of features, offers good performance, and which has a comparatively long battery life. We think it's a good product for students, home users and even office workers who want something big and comfortable to use for everyday work, as well as the occasional CPU-intensive task. It's available at Aldi from 28 April, and we think it's worth rushing down to scoop one up.
Price$ 799.00 (AUD)
Medion continues its push to supply well-configured yet inexpensive notebooks to mainstream users. Its latest, the Medion Akoya MD98330, is a 15.6in laptop with an Intel Core i3-M330 CPU, 4GB of DDR3 SDRAM and a 500GG hard drive. It has plenty of speed for office and social media tasks, and you can even use it for more advanced tasks such as ripping DVDs and encoding video files.
You won't be able to play many games with the Akoya MD98330 — it has a modest integrated Intel graphics adapter — but it can display standard- and high-definition videos just fine. You can either watch movies on the laptop's 1366x768-resolution screen, or you can output them to a TV via the side-mounted HDMI port. If you plan to watch movies on the notebook itself you’ll have to make sure you have the screen angled exactly right: it has narrow vertical viewing angles that play havoc with the contrast. What’s good though is that the screen is not glossy, so it won't succumb to reflections.
Akoya MD98330 build quality
We like the overall build quality of the Akoya MD98330, but it’s not built as strongly as the Samsung R580, for example; it does creak a little bit on the right side, which is where the DVD burner is installed. It has a good sized keyboard with a narrow number pad. Although the keys feel a little bit spongy, it’s still a comfortable keyboard to type on. The touchpad is the same material as the palm rest, and it doesn’t feel bad. However, you should configure the scrolling region before you use the touchpad; it is set a little too wide and often you end up scrolling when all you want to do is move the pointer. The pad supports two-finger scrolling, pinch zooming and two-finger rotating, and you can also use ChiralMotion one-finger scrolling, which we love.
Akoya MD98330 media centre and battery life
Medion pre-installs Windows 7 Home Premium (32-bit) on the Akoya MD98330, and this includes Windows Media Centre. The notebook is supplied with a USB-based, HD digital TV tuner, and it works very well for watching live free-to-air television and time-shifting. An adapter is supplied so that you can plug in you roof antenna, or you can use the little desktop antenna that is included. To our surprise, the little antenna worked during our tests, and we were able to watch ONE HD while running the laptop on its battery in the middle of the office. You also get a small remote control, so you can sit back and relax while you channel surf.
In our battery rundown test, in which we disable power management, enable Wi-Fi and turn up the screen brightness while we loop an Xvid-encoded video, the Akoya MD98330 lasted 2hr 44min. This is a great result when compared to other big notebooks we’ve tested, such as the Samsung R580 and ASUS N61Ja, which recorded 1hr 35min and 1hr 47min, respectively.
Akoya MD98330 specs and performance
The Intel Core i3-M330 CPU, 4GB of DDR3 SDRAM and the 500GB hard drive give the Medion Akoya MD98330 plenty of grunt for everyday tasks, and this was shown in our Blender 3D and iTunes MP3 encoding tests. In these tests the notebook recorded times of 1min 10 and 1min 15sec, respectively. These results are on par with the MSI CR620. The notebook's hard drive recorded a transfer speed of 25.85 megabytes per second, which is a respectable time but not the fastest we’ve see from a notebook in this class. All things considered, you can use this notebook from a little bit of everything. We even encoded ripped DVDs to Xvid videos; it took 1hr 12min to encode a 90min movie. On a Core i5-520-based machine, which has eight virtual cores and Turbo Boost technology, the same movie can be encoded in 55min.
Because the Core i3-M330 CPU is dual core and has Hyper-Threading, for a total of four virtual cores, it’s great for multitasking. Even while you are running a heavy task such as video encoding you can use the notebook for Web browsing and office tasks without the system noticeably slowing.
After running for hours on end while encoding movies, the underside of the Akoya MD98330 barely got warm. We were still able to sit in on our lap and not get uncomfortable. There is a powerful fan on the left side of the notebook, and it kicks in whenever the CPU is under a heavy load.
Playing games on the Akoya MD98330 is no-no. It has only a basic integrated Intel HD graphics adapter and it scored 1733 in 3DMark06. You’ll be able to play board games or any other type of game that doesn’t have complex 3D graphics, but that’s it.
Akoya MD98330 connections
The graphics card has enough power to drive the laptop's HDMI port, and this means you can use a modern TV as a large, high-definition monitor. Plug in the USB TV tuner, and you’ve got yourself a fully functioning digital video recorder. There is an eSATA port for adding fast external storage, or you can plug in an external USB 2.0 hard drive. There are three dedicated USB 2.0 ports, and the eSATA port can double as a further USB 2.0 port. However, the two USB 2.0 ports on the left reside near the power adapter port and this can make it difficult to plug in some USB keys. Furthermore, the port on the right side is not powered, so some older 2.5in external hard drives might not be able to run off it.
Other connections on the Akoya MD98330 include Gigabit Ethernet, VGA, headphone and microphone ports and an SD card reader. You also get a webcam and an 802.11n Wi-Fi adapter (Realtek RT8191SE). It’s a well-stocked notebook and it will serve you well whether you’re a student or an office worker. And despite being 15.6in, it only weighs 2.5kg and it’s easy to carry in a modest-sized backpack.
There is plenty to like about the Medion Akoya MD98330; from its big, yet lightweight design, to its solid performance and comparatively long battery life. It doesn’t feel as well built as more expensive notebooks — its lid and the right side of the base are slightly creaky — but unless you treat it poorly, this won’t be a problem. All up, it’s a versatile notebook that can be used at home, at school or even in the office. If you see it at your nearest Aldi store, be sure to pick it up.
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