For a consumer, specifications play an important role come decision time. Sure, a lot of people may decide to purchase a popular brand of notebook, but for someone who is cash-strapped, price does matter. As a consumer out there who is after the best bargains, I want to find the best deal for my hard-earned dollar.

Fortunately, an Aldi store is just across the SmartHouse office, and that is the first place I went to.

While retailers like Harvey Norman and Dick Smith sell notebooks for as low as $500, these only have minimum specifications and lack grunt to multi-task. Looking at the other end of the spectrum, there are those notebooks that are powerful enough to play games and do video editing without experiencing lags slowdowns. Unfortunately, it will cost you an arm and a leg, and that is what people don’t fancy doing.

Aldi’s new offering, a 15.4-inch notebook from Medion, has a Core 2 Duo processor, an Nvidia video card with HDMI out, a 320GB hard drive, 3GB of memory, and will only have a retail price of $999. Not bad for a powerhouse that can help you take your work and play anywhere.

The Medion MD96970 sports a classy piano black finish that gives it a ‘professional’ touch. It does not have any sort of latches and even comes with a fingerprint reader that recognises your identity in a swipe.

 


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The unit has a line-in, microphone-in, and headphone-out jacks up front, with the speakers cleverly hidden on the sides. An ExpressCard slot, 4-in-1 card reader (SD, MMS, MS, MS Pro), HDMI-out, E-SATA port, Ethernet, S-Video out, D-Sub, power port, and Kensington port are located on the left side, while three USB ports and a DVD/CD optical drive can be found on its opposite side.

Opening the notebook’s lid reveals a 15.4-inch notebook, a built-in webcamera and speakers, touch sensitive multimedia keys (Wi-Fi, Play/Pause, Stop, Previous, and Next), keyboard with a dedicated numeric keypad, touchpad, and a fingerprint reader. The keys have a matte finish, is well-spaced, and is tactile, which certainly makes typing easy and natural.

Specifications-wise, the computer runs on an Intel Core 2 Duo T5750 processor running at 2.0 GHz, utilises Nvidia’s Geforce 9300M G video graphics card (128MB), has 3GB of RAM, 320GB of storage, and comes pre-installed with Windows Vista Premium Service Pack 1.

 

Like any Medion PC that we have reviewed, this notebook comes with quite a number of software programs to get you started. A trial version of Bullguard and Microsoft Office 2007 is included, as well as Cyberlink’s Home Cinema suite (CyberLink [email protected], PowerDirector, Cyberlink YouCam), Microsoft Works, Nero 8 Essentials (BackItUp, Burning ROM, ControlCentre, CoverDesigner, Express, MediaHome, Recode, ShowTime, StartSmart, Vision, WaveEditor), and Ulead’s PhotoImpact12 software.

A program well-worth mentioning is the Softex OmniPass, a fingerprint reader software that not only stores your personal Windows log-in data, but also manages all your username and password data when visiting secure websites. It also comes with a ‘File Protection’ feature that encrypts your files, which helps protect files and important folders.

The stored usernames and passwords can be edited or deleted with a single swipe. In our tests, we found the OmniPass software to log our username and password on sites like Gmail and Yahoomail, although sometimes the software had issues inputting our account details.

The encryption software worked without a hitch: it was able to encrypt files and folders and restore the file back with a single swipe. Just remember to decrypt all the OmniPass encrypted files and back them up to a removable media before uninstalling the OmniPass software or reformatting the hard drive.

 

The unit lasted around 120 minutes when set to Windows’ High Performance mode, which would probably last longer if it is set to Power Saving mode and if a user does not use the optical drive. Nevertheless, this notebook has enough juice to last for a couple of presentations or a short movie. It takes almost the same time to get fully-charged.

Medion’s MD96970 is one of those notebooks that offer great specifications for its attractive price. It may not be as flashy as rival notebooks, but relies on the simple fact that it can get the job done.

This 15.4-incher will hit Aldi stores on September 4, 2008 and will have an RRP of $999. But if a 15-inch notebook is not enough, users can purchase the 17-inch Medion notebook that we have reviewed a couple of months back which costs $1,499. See www.aldi.com.au for more information.

See page over for product specifications and final rating.

 

Medion Akoya MD96970 Specifications:

Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo processor T5750 (2.0Ghz)
Video Card: Nvidia Geforce 9300M G (128MB)
RAM: 3GB
Hard Drive Capacity: 320GB
Screen: 15.4-inch TFT WXGA (1280 x 800)
Operating System: Windows Vista Home Premium with Service Pack 1
Optical Drive: DVD Multi-Recorder
Ports: 3 x USB, D-Sub out, S-Video out, Ethernet, E-SATA, HDMI, 4-in-1 card reader, ExpressCard, Line-in, Microphone-in, Audio-out
Other Features: Webcamera, Built-in microphone, Fingerprint reader, dedicated numberic keypad, Touch-sensitive keys

Included software:
– Bullguard (Trial)
– Home Cinema (CyberLink [email protected], PowerDirector, CyberLink YouCam)
– Microsoft Office (Trial)
– Microsoft Works
– Nero 8 Essentials (BackItUp, Burning ROM, ControlCentre, CoverDesigner, Express, MediaHome, Recode, ShowTime, StartSmart, Vision, WaveEditor)
– Softex OmniPass that can store all your personal data and fill up the username and password box with a swipe.
– Ulead PhotoImpact12

Medion Akoya MD96970 | $999 |  | www.aldi.com.au

For: Piano black finish; Noteworthy specifications; Touch-sensitive keys; Fingerprint reader and encrypting software; Well-spaced keyboard and numeric keypad; Abundance of ports
Against: Finish is prone to fingerprints; Screen is highly-reflective; Issues with fingerprint reader software
Conclusion: An affordable notebook for users who want a powerhouse.