Medion Akoya S3409 –
In a world of computer products with names like Super Mega Infinity Warrior X Pro Turbo, Medion isn’t a brand name to set the pulse racing. They might as well have called it Averaj, or Ordinari, or just taken the word ‘Dull’ and changed a letter. Come to think of it, someone else has already done that.
Anyway, boring isn’t always bad. Medion is headquartered in Germany, home of competent engineering, and it makes PCs with better specs than you’d expect for the money. That’s the kind of boring we like.
It’s slim, light and capable at a very competitive price
Our S3409 model came with a 13.3in Full HD screen, Intel i5-7200U processor, 8GB of memory and 256GB SSD, and we found it online (the official price of a slower i3 model). The dual-core i5 chip can’t match the latest eighth- generation quad-core chips, but for anything short of 4K video editing and the fanciest 3D games it should cope just fine.
Medion’s website is currently offering an i7-7500U version, which is also good value. It’s still a dual-core chip, but noticeably faster. With the i5, the battery lasted just under six hours 30 minutes in our video-playback test, which would be acceptable for a clunky budget laptop but feels disappointing for what looks like a more modem model.
Look closer, and it becomes more obvious why the Akoya isn’t pricier. Like Dell, Medion has been slow to embrace the era of aluminium unibodies, and apart from some decorative brushed metal plates, the case is mostly made of silvery plastic. It hasn’t so much been designed as beaten into roughly the correct shape to hold all the parts. Airflow seems to have been rather left to chance, meaning it can be eerily quiet and then – for no apparent reason – the fans start up with a low whine.
But it feels solid enough, and the keyboard, which is gently backlit, provides a crisp and reliable action, even if the keys are a fraction smaller than those on a desktop PC keyboard. The big, smooth trackpad recognises Windows 10 gestures smoothly, and although there’s no dedicated Ethernet socket, fast 802.11ac Wi-Fi is built in, and the combination of two USB 3.0 ports, one USB Type-C, HDMI and an SD card reader shouldn’t leave you stuck for inputs and outputs.
If we were going to be picky (and why break the habit of a lifetime?) we’d have liked just a couple of millimetres more space between the USB 3.0 ports, because only slimmer memory drives will fit in at the same time as another plug, maybe for a mouse. The Type-C port isn’t used for charging – there’s a separate DC input socket for that – which means you’ll always have the port available for something else. On the other hand that means you’ll always have to cany the Medion mains adapter, rather than relying on a Type-C charger of your choice.
The screen is surprisingly decent. Full HD looks sharp at this size, and while 81 per cent of the sRGB colour range won’t impress serious photo editors (and colours are still a bit off within that), it’s fine to the untrained eye, making a more vivid impression than most at this price. Don’t pin too much hope on the Dolby Audio Premium badge – the built-in speakers are more bark than Bach – but there’s a headphone jack at the ready. And at just 1.4kg, it’s all very little effort to cart around.
Whether you get the i5 or i7 version, the S3409 is slim, light and capable at a competitive price, let down only by limited battery life
See also THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO…OLED laptops
Dell Inspiron 13 5000 i5368-7643GRY 13.3 inch FHD 2-in-1 Laptop (Intel Core i5-6200U 2.3GHz Processor, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD, Windows 10) Gray
With a new quad-core i5 chip, the similarly configured Inspiron is more expensive, but sturdy and fast
2.5GHz Intel i5-7200U dual-core processor • 8GB memory • 256GB SSD • 1920×1080-pixel screen • 2x USB 3.0 ports • USB Type-C port • HDMI port • SD card reader • 802.11ac Wi-Fi • Windows 10 Home • 16.9x3287x221mm (HxWxD) • 1.41kg • One-year warranty