Medion makes the kind of budget laptops you find piled high in stores like Tesco and Aldi. But, just because it's a budget brand, that doesn't mean it's shy about including higher-end parts in its laptops. The 15.6-inch Medion Akoya P6625 is a good example. Although it's very affordable at £569, it packs in a powerful Core i5 processor and dedicated ATI Radeon graphics.
Glossy coatings are now the norm on consumer laptops, but the 15.6-inch display on this device has a matte finish instead. As a result, colours don't come across quite as vibrant as they do on many glossy displays. But, what you lose in vibrancy you gain in readability -- the display is almost completely devoid of reflections, even under bright lights. The resolution of 1,366x768 pixels is pretty much par for the course for a laptop in this price bracket. Since it's LED backlit, it does look very bright. Its viewing angle is relatively narrow compared to most mid-range laptops, however, so you sometimes find yourself tilting the screen forwards and backwards on the hinge to find its sweet spot.
For the keyboard, Medion has chosen to use traditional tapered keys rather than the Scrabble-type keys that are fast becoming popular. Regardless of its failure to follow trend, the keyboard is still quite reasonable. Although there is a small amount of flex in the centre, you can't really feel this when you're typing at speed. The keys have a fast action so they respond nicely to even lighter taps. The trackpad isn't quite as impressive, though. It's essentially integrated into the wrist rest, although it is inset slightly, and a glossy finish makes it feel a little sticky under your finger. Aside from that, the single rocker button on the trackpad is very responsive. We especially like the row of media playback buttons nestled above the keyboard, next to switches that control the Wi-Fi connection and graphics processor.
Medion has kitted the laptop out with three USB sockets, plus an eSata port. Unlike most of today's laptops, the eSata port doesn't double as an extra USB port, which is a shame, but hardly a deal-breaker. You also get a VGA port and HDMI socket for hooking up the P6625 to an external display. Next to the HDMI port, you'll find an ExpressCard slot, which provides some room for expansion in the future. Naturally, Ethernet and 801.11n Wi-Fi are provided, but, sadly, Bluetooth is not. The generously sized 500GB hard drive provides plenty of space for storing documents and media files, and it's joined by both a DVD writer and an SD memory card reader.
Budget body, high-end heart
Despite the budget price, Medion has managed to equip the P6625 with a fast Intel quad-core i5-430M processor that races along at 2.26GHz. This has been twinned with 4GB of RAM, which gives the laptop's Windows 7 Home Premium operating system some room to breathe. In the PCMark05 benchmark, it managed to post a score of 7,260. This is very impressive by budget laptop standards and shows it's got the grunt to handle even more demanding tasks like high-definition video-editing.
Interestingly, the laptop has both standard on-board Intel GMA HD graphics as well as a dedicated ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5165 chip. This means you can swap to the more power-efficient Intel graphics chip when you're running on battery power to extend battery life, and switch over to the more muscular Radeon chip when you want to enjoy a little gaming. Using the ATI graphics chip, the laptop racked up an outstanding score of 7,118 in 3DMark06, so it'll have no problems running newer games.
When it comes to battery life, the laptop's 6-cell battery helped it put in a fairly decent performance. In our intensive Battery Eater test, it managed to keep running for an hour and 10 minutes, which isn't bad for a 15-inch laptop, especially as you're likely to get much longer battery life from it under real-world conditions.
It really is hard to find too much to fault with the Medion Akoya P6625. It looks reasonably attractive for a budget machine and, more importantly, has a very balanced specification, which means it's good at gaming as well as general multitasking duties. If you're on a tight budget and are looking for a laptop that can be enjoyed by the whole family, it's a superb option.
Edited by Emma Bayly