We've already had a sneak peek at Intel's new Centrino 2 technology in our Acer Aspire 2930 preview, but now we can finally see how it really performs thanks to this new laptop from Medion. The Medion Akoya S5610 is available for £600 in-store at Sainsbury's or direct from Medion.
The Akoya S5610 is a relatively slimline machine, but it manages to pack in both a large 15.4-inch widescreen display and a full-sized keyboard complete with a numerical keypad. The most exciting thing about it, however, is that it's one of the first laptops we've seen to use Intel's new Centrino 2 technology.
Intel claims Centrino 2 offers better wireless support, longer battery life and faster performance. On the performance front this laptop certainly doesn't disappoint. It's powered by a 2.0GHz Core 2 Duo P7350 processor, which is helped along by a relatively generous 3GB of RAM. This combination managed to propel it to a very respectable score -- especially considering the low price -- of 4,719 in our PC Mark 05 test. The result means you should have no problems running multiple applications at the same time and certainly during our test period, the machine felt fast and very responsive.
The S5610 also uses the new Intel WiFi Link 5100 chipset, which supports wireless n technology for longer range and faster link speeds. Used with our Belkin wireless n router it certainly had no problem hanging on to a wireless connection, even in areas around our test site where other laptops struggle for reception.
When it comes to graphics, Medion has wisely side-stepped Intel's own lacklustre integrated graphics offering and instead opted for a dedicated ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3470 graphics chip. It's not the fastest chip in the world, but it's a significant step up from integrated graphics in terms of performance and managed to post a pretty decent score of 2,309 in 3D Mark 06. This means it's got enough speed to allow you to play the latest 3D games, just as long as you turn the detail down a tad.
The roomy 320GB hard drive offers plenty of space for storing music files, videos or documents, but Medion has also kitted the machine out with an external eSata port, plus two USB ports, so adding external storage is easy. In fact, if you can live without the DVD drive, you can swap it out for an optional secondary 320GB hard disk or alternatively use the bay for a second battery. There's also an HDMI port so you can hook the laptop up to an HD Ready TV to watch movies or play games on the big screen.
Intel has made big claims about how its Centrino 2 technology can help prolong the battery life of laptops. Our Battery Eater rundown test didn't bear this out in the case of the Akoya S5610. The laptop managed to keep running for just 1 hour and 27 minutes before it ran out of steam and was begging to be plugged back into the mains. That's rather disappointing, especially as it's one of the main selling points of Centrino 2 technology.
Although the spec of this laptop is good for the £600 asking price, there are some issues with the design we weren't so keen on. The styling is lacklustre and the matte finish on the lid and interior looks cheap compared to some of its glossy rivals. We don't like the way the power button is positioned on the left-hand side of the display hinge, as it's awkward to get at when you're using the laptop on a desk surrounded by lots of papers and files.
It's a shame that Medion hasn't managed to eke a little more life from the battery or come up with a more exciting design for the chassis. However, the fact that the Akoya S5610 offers cutting-edge Centrino 2 technology for the bargain price of £600 is to be applauded, especially as the machine is such a sprightly performer.
Edited by Nick Hide