Medion Akoya MD99410 (E1232T) touchscreen laptop

A 10in device with a good array of connectivity, but with basic speed and a keyboard layout that could confuse

Medion Akoya MD99410 (E1232T)
  • Medion Akoya MD99410 (E1232T)
  • Medion Akoya MD99410 (E1232T)
  • Medion Akoya MD99410 (E1232T)
  • Expert Rating

    3.50 / 5

Pros

  • Small and mobile
  • Full-sized HDMI and SD card slot
  • Full version of Office Home & Student
  • Competitive pricing

Cons

  • Sluggish performance
  • Keyboard layout

Bottom Line

Like most Medion products, the $399 price tag for this tiny laptop is as competitive as it gets considering what you get. Its performance and the keyboard layout are the only issues that are of concern, though if you don’t have plans on running heavy tasks on it, it will be fine.

Would you buy this?

The influx of low-cost computers at Aldi will continue on 10 September. On that day, Medion’s latest 10in sub-notebook will go on sale, and it’s sure to command plenty of attention from those of you seeking a highly mobile Windows 8 device. It has an expectedly low price, yet it packs plenty of features that are usually left off products in its class. Be warned though, it’s not the fastest kit on the block, and its keyboard layout isn’t typical.

Small, slow, but well connected

It looks like it could be a netbook from yesteryear considering its small dimensions, and in many cases it’s representative of what netbooks used to be: simple, inexpensive laptops with which to do a bit of typing and get online. The trick with this Windows 8.1-based laptop, though, is that it has all the features that are typical of a bigger notebook, and it even offers a touchscreen so that you can swipe as well as type to get the most out of the operating system’s Modern UI. (Note that it can't be used strictly as a tablet; it has a fixed clamshell form factor.)

On the inside, however, the configuration is understandably basic, so you can’t expect it to supply performance that’s in any way fast. At the helm is an Intel Celeron N2807 CPU, which has two cores and a standard frequency of 1.58GHz (burst mode goes up to 2.16GHz). It also has the graphics processor that drives the 1280x800-pixel screen.

It’s the slowest of the Celerons we’ve seen in recent times, and places the Medion firmly in the ‘simple computing’ basket. You won’t want to use it for much more than Web browsing and multimedia tasks, and heavy multitasking is out, even though you also get 4GB of DDR3 SDRAM.

The slow speed of the laptop was borne out in our Blender 3D rendering test, in which our job was completed in 3min 01sec. It’s not a fast completion time, and it’s even slower than what the Dell 11 3000 2-in-1 achieved in the same test (2min 42sec), though that machine is bigger and features a slightly faster Celeron N2830U CPU. It’s certainly no match for recent machines that feature Intel’s ‘Bay Trail’ version of the Atom processor, which can complete the same workload in about 1min 30sec.

We felt some of that sluggishness come through during general usage when scrolling Web sites with Flash elements (especially auto-playing video), and also when using multiple browser windows. For example, there was a noticeable lack of responsiveness in the system when we launched Google Play Music, while also using Gmail. Once the music service was launched, it responded adequately, even when we used the touchscreen to scroll through lists of albums and songs.

For the most part, we found the laptop to be fine for casual browsing, flicking through photos, streaming music, and for viewing streaming videos.

We had no problems viewing 1080p content on YouTube, ABC’s iView performed smoothly, and SBS OnDemand determined that a bit rate of 1.478k was the best rate achievable when streaming shows from that service. For premium streaming services such as NBA LeaguePass, we were able to watch comfortably at the user-selected rate of 1600Kbps, but there was some noticeable frame skipping — it was even more noticeable when we plugged the laptop into a TV via HDMI. The other services fared better when viewed on the big screen.

The full-sized HDMI port is part of an impressive array of connectivity. You also get two USB 2.0 ports and one USB 3.0 port, there is a full-sized SD card slot, a headset port, and you even get a built-in Gigabit Ethernet port. Not many laptops of this size come with an Ethernet port; granted, most of you probably don’t have a need for one outside of an emergency situation. More likely, you’ll make better use of the built-in Intel Wireless-AC 3160 Wi-Fi module, which can connect at a link speed of up to 433 megabits per second (Mbps) when using an 802.11ac router. Bluetooth 4.0 is also present.

On the left side you get Gigabit Ethernet, full-sized HDMI, USB 3.0, and a headset port.
On the left side you get Gigabit Ethernet, full-sized HDMI, USB 3.0, and a headset port.

The right has the SD card slot, two USB 2.0 ports, and the power port.
The right has the SD card slot, two USB 2.0 ports, and the power port.

Storage is by way of a 500GB Hitachi hard drive that has a 7200rpm spin speed, but even with that spin speed, the focus here is on capacity for storing lots of data, rather than accessing data very quickly. It’s a drive that recorded the same sequential rate of 126 megabytes per second (MBps) for reading and writing in CrystalDiskMark, which is a very good result for a laptop in this price range. Nevertheless, we can’t help but think a drive with a lesser spin speed would be more beneficial, especially when it comes to power consumption and keeping cool.

The Medion has a small capacity battery of 25 Watt-hours built in, and gives the laptop only a fair amount of life away from a power adapter. In our battery rundown test, in which we maximise screen brightness, enable Wi-Fi, and loop a Full HD MP4 file until the laptop conks out, the Medion lasted only 2hr 58min. Funnily enough, perhaps realising that the battery might not last long enough, Medion has supplied a power adapter with cords that give the laptop a total reach of about 4m away from a power outlet.

Since it’s a small laptop with a 10.1in form factor, it’s very easy to carry around, and it only weighs 1.07kg. The small size means the keyboard is a little cramped, but that’s not our biggest issue with it (and with the laptop overall). The keyboard actually has a physical UK layout, which means that the left Shift key is not long, and the Enter key is not long either. It’s the sort of thing that can stifle your typing, and you might find that a remapping tool is essential in order to give the board a more natural feel.

The keyboard has a layout that is more common for the UK than Australia. The left Shift and Enter keys are too small in this layout.
The keyboard has a layout that is more common for the UK than Australia. The left Shift and Enter keys are too small in this layout.

Surprisingly, the touchpad is of a good size (91x51mm), and it was mostly accurate and responsive during our tests, even for multi-finger gestures.

Speakers are located at the bottom of the unit, but they shouldn't be relied on for much. They offer an understandably weak sound with very limited frequency response.

Final observations

Like most Medion products, the $399 price tag for this tiny laptop is as competitive as it gets considering what you get, and it includes a licence for the full version of Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013. Its performance and the keyboard layout are the only issues that are of concern, though if you don’t have plans on running heavy tasks on it, it will be fine, and you can get around the keyboard issue with third-party remapping software.

Since the cover at the base of the laptop is removable, you can also try your hand at swapping out the hard drive with a solid state drive if you find the overall system performance to be too slow. This will at least gain you more speed (and possibly more battery life), but will sacrifice the internal storage capacity. It’s the only part of the laptop that’s easily upgradable. The supported drive height is 7mm.

The Akoya MD99410 (E123T) goes on sale at Aldi on 10 September, and it’s worth considering if you are interested in a tiny laptop device with a touchscreen.

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