Medion Akoya E1210 notebook review

Back in July we spotted a Medion Akoya E1210 languishing in an Aldi showcase and snapped a few shots for you. Now that the Akoya E1201 has become available in the UK, we bring you the lowdown in full. But can the E1210 offering anything that any of the other reskinned MSI Wind variants don’t?

The E1210 has had time to attach the term "Netbook" to its name, with the box describing it as an "everywhere netbook". Of course, it is an MSI Wind at heart and if you are interested in notebooks of this size you should recognise the details: it features the Intel Atom N270 1.6GHz processor, an 80GB harddrive (partitioned to give you an 8GB backup area) and 1GB RAM. Graphics are handled by the Intel GMA 950.

The 10-inch screen is bright and crisp and we’ve been impressed with its performance overall – the anti-glare finish makes this a netbook that you can use outside, unlike some rival models. In terms of connectivity you get Wi-Fi and Ethernet for your networking, as well as three USB 2.0, VGA, headphone and mic jacks and a memory card reader (SD, MMC and MS).

The livery has changed slightly, now giving you a black exterior and a fetching silver surface around the keyboard. But we’ve always liked the build quality on these netbooks: the small screen is surprisingly sturdy and closes shut with a satisfying thud. The body, although all plastic, feels relatively solid and free from creaks.

The E1210 runs Windows XP, as many netbooks do, and you’ll find Corel WordPerfect Office X3 has been pre-installed. Various other software trials are installed from the off so you can choose to continue with these, or revert to your preferred options. Installation needs some consideration as there is no CD or DVD drive, so downloaded software is the simplest option if you don’t have an external drive. We have also installed software from a USB stick with no problems.

The keyboard is one of the best features of the E1210: it is responsive and easy to type with. In terms fo size, it fills the full width of the body, so is more natural to use than some of the smaller netbooks out there. However, there are a few minor niggles you’ll have to adjust to, such as the swapping of the Ctrl and Fn keys: if you are a heavy user of shortcuts (such as in Word), then you’ll find you be accessing the function options instead. The other minor irritation with the keyboard is the small size of the comma and full point keys, but these are more a question of getting familiar with the layout.

It isn’t until you peer a little closer that you find slight differences and one of those is Bluetooth which is not present on this model. This is something of a disadvantage for those working on the move as you won’t be able to take advantage of a wireless link to your mobile phone or headset. It can easily be added with a dongle, but it is a surprising omission. As a result, the LED indicator has been reassigned to the webcam, linked to the F6 shortcut.

One of the oft-talked about features of the MSI Wind forebear is the power saving feature, allowing you to hit a shortcut which dimmed the screen and cut power to the CPU, giving the battery about 30 mins more life (which on a device with a battery life around 2 hours is worth having). This feature is also missing from the Medion; a naked F10 key sits without a blue icon, its purpose in life removed. A sad day indeed for F10.

In the place of these features you'll find that the Wi-Fi has been ramped up to include the draft n spec. Whilst this will be good for those moving files on a network it doesn't bring much to the party if you are going to be using the E1210 as a portable internet device, certainly we don't think it makes up for the lack of Bluetooth.

There is also a 1.3MP webcam and built-in microphone, so ideal for Skype (or similar) whilst on your travels. The built-in speakers are poor however and not something you’d want to listen to music on for any great period of time. The Medion notebooks come with a 1 year warranty as standard.

Verdict

If you are looking for a netbook then it is difficult to avoid those based on the MSI Wind and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In terms of value for money, you certainly get a lot. The screen and keyboard are the real differentiators here as many of the tech specs are very close to competitor models.

However, you can’t help feel that Medion have let the side down with omission of Bluetooth, which is now such a common feature of notebooks and something that mobile workers want and need. Yes, you can add a dongle, but why would you when it is integrated in so many other versions of this computer?

Medion list the E1210 as £299.99 on their website which compares to a price of £279.99 in Aldi. However, this is through the Aldi "Special Buys" so only appears in store in limited amounts and only when they decide to have a special run on computers. We were told, however, that Sainsbury’s would be stocking the E1210 at £299.99, although we have yet to see one in-store. With the Advent 4211 coming in at £279.99 from PC World (or less if you employ the comparison with PC World Business technique pointed out by one of our readers), it does seem better value for money.

Overall, the Medion Akoya E1210 is a great little notebook, which covers all the basics. Admittedly we do have a soft-spot these MSI Wind variants, scoring them highly in the past, but we feel that tweaking the Medion Akoya E1210 brings it in slightly short of the mark.