Medion – Akoya E3211 review

budget 13.3-inch laptop
Photo of Medion – Akoya E3211
£499

Medion is best known for its range of low-cost computers, and at £499 its new Akoya E3211 laptop certainly fits into that category.

The Akoya E3211 is powered by an Intel Pentium SU2700 processor, which is an ultra-low voltage chip and therefore uses less power than standard Core 2 Duo models. As you might expect, it’s also not particularly fast. It has a clock speed of just 1.3GHz, and the fact it’s a single-core processor means it’s not best suited to multitasking.

The processor is backed up by 4GB of RAM, while graphics are taken care of by Intel’s GMA 4500M integrated chipset. More on performance in a moment.

Given its low price, the fact the chassis comes across as feeling a bit cheap isn’t hugely surprising. With a glossy coating to the lid, Medion has done its best to make it look attractive, but don’t expect a ‘wow’ moment when you open it up for the first time.

There’s no HDMI output, but otherwise the Akoya E3211 has a decent range of connectivity options. On the left side sit a single USB port, Gigabit Ethernet, multi-format card reader, VGA-out and a 34mm ExpressCard slot. Two further USB ports are located on the right, along with a pair of audio sockets and a DVD writer.

Draft-N wireless is built-in, but despite a logo on the keyboard suggesting otherwise, Bluetooth is omitted. The 13.3-inch display has a resolution of 1,366 by 768 pixels, giving it a 16:9 aspect ratio. It’s impressively bright when viewed straight on, but shift to either side and clarity is soon lost. Meanwhile, a 320GB hard drive provides plenty of storage space.

With the keyboard, Medion has gone for flat, shiny keys. They’re of a good size, but the problem is they’re packed in very close together, which makes it a little too easy to accidentally slip onto a neighbouring key when typing at speed.

In order to keep everything within the confines of the chassis, Medion has had to slim down the arrow keys, which does make them a little fiddly to use. The keyboard also suffers from a fair amount of flex, but it’s not a huge concern and only those with a heavy typing style are likely to notice it.

With its 1.3GHz SU2700 processor, we weren’t expecting wonders in terms of performance. In PCmark05 it managed to muster up an overall score of 1,845, indicating it’s perfectly capable of handling web- and office-based tasks, but will struggle with more processor-intensive applications such as video editing.

Sure enough, the pre-installed Windows Vista Home Premium ticked along nicely. Intensive gaming is definitely out of the question, though. Intel’s GMA 4500M integrated graphics are enough to handle the demands of Vista’s Aero interface, but not much else.

The upside of low-powered components is that the battery takes less of a hit. When putting it through a light-usage test, we achieved just over four hours on a single charge. Bear in mind that this is a best-case scenario; give it more of a rough ride and you can expect battery life to drop to under three hours.

As far as portability is concerned, the laptop’s weight of 1.8kg puts it well above what we’d consider to be an ultra-portable. And at just over 31mm thick, it’s fairly chunky as well.

Company: Medion

Contact: 0845 434 6003


Verdict
With its low-powered specification and plain design, the Akoya E3211 does little to set pulses racing. And in terms of processing power, it's only a smidgen faster than most Atom-powered netbooks. That said, the 13.3-inch screen and large keyboard make it far more usable than a netbook, and if you're not planning on doing much more than word processing and web browsing it's reasonable value at £499.