Medion Akoya EX
At a Glance
If I had to choose between Medion's Akoya EX and Akoya LS retail laptops, I would pick the EX hands down. The $1200 Medion Akoya EX packs a lot of extras in exchange for the additional $100, including a bigger screen and an 80GB hard drive. Also, the EX's case design allows do-it-yourselfers to access and upgrade RAM and storage, unlike the LS, which is a sealed unit.
At 5.4 pounds (not including the power adapter), the EX weighs a bit more than the 4.8-pound LS. And its battery pooped out sooner, delivering 3.3 hours compared with the LS's almost 4 hours. However, if an easy-to-tote unit with a vanilla-colored case sounds appealing, the EX delivers all the other goods, including a 14.1-inch, 1280-by-768-pixel wide screen, 802.11g Wi-Fi, and a fixed double-layer DVD-RW/CD-RW burner. It's the least expensive laptop I've seen that comes equipped with a DVI connection for high-end monitors, in addition to a standard VGA port. Another cool feature for the price (although it's not built in): a bundled four-in-one card reader that can be inserted into the EX's PC Card slot. Most people probably will not consider the EX's disadvantages too problematic: It lacks an S-Video-out TV port, decent stereo sound, and a Wi-Fi switch.
Typing on the touchpad-equipped EX's keyboard is easy, although I missed the quick-launch application buttons found on the LS. One feature I developed a love-hate relationship with is the battery alarm, located in the lower part of the screen frame. In the last crucial minutes of battery life, it blinks red and beeps loudly, an even more effective (and annoyingly persistent) alarm than a simple system beep.
The Akoya EX should be up to just about any task, coming equipped with 512MB of RAM and a midrange processor, the 1.7-GHz Pentium M 735. It turned in a fine performance in our speed tests, earning a WorldBench 5 score of 78 (a similarly equipped Asus W5A we also tested in August 2005 earned a score of 76).
Documentation for the Akoya EX caters to computer users a notch above novice. In addition to the usual basic Quick Start Guide poster, the printed manual covers laptop features in detail and briefly addresses a few higher-end computer issues such as networks. It offers no help with RAM and hard drive upgrades, however, warning that they are for qualified technicians only.
At $1200 retail, the Medion Akoya EX costs $100 more than its lower-end sibling, the LS, but is a much better choice. It has more features, including a DVD burner and a plug-in four-in-one card reader