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Medion Akoya S3409 review: A lot of power in a compact chassis

Medion Akoya S3409 review
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
599
inc VAT

Battery life isn’t brilliant, but everything else about this 13.3in ultraportable screams excellent value

Pros 
Light
Great keyboard
Excellent performance
Cons 
Surprisingly noisy
Tinny sound
Unimpressive battery life
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Medion doesn’t have the kind of reputation in the UK that it enjoys in its native Germany, but it’s a brand that generally competes in terms of bang for buck. And that’s the MO with the Akoya S3409, which packs a generous spec inside a slimline aluminium chassis with a 13.3in Full HD screen. You’re getting something that looks like a high-end ultraportable, but at under two-thirds the price of the equivalent Dell XPS 13 or MacBook. 

We say “looks like” because this isn’t quite as slick or polished a design as the photographs make it appear, with signs of cost-cutting are easy to spot once you see it in the flesh. The most obvious is that it isn’t actually all metal, with an aluminium lid and an aluminium baseplate slipping over the keyboard and the sides. This all but conceals the kind of silver plastic base that was ubiquitous in budget laptops a few years ago. The Akoya still feels solid and looks more expensive than it is, but where the Acer Swift 3 and Asus ZenBook UX410 are rocking all-aluminium designs, Medion’s doesn’t hold up quite as well.

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That lack of finesse shows up elsewhere, with a tiny power button on the right-hand side that’s initially hard to find, plus ports crammed together next door: that makes it difficult to get some cables and/or USB memory sticks plugged in at the same time. The Akoya can also be surprisingly noisy. It’s eerily quiet one minute, but a low, whining tone kicks in as soon as it’s pushed – and even sometimes when it’s not.

Buy the Medion Akoya S3409 now

Yet, there are also many good things about the Akoya S3409. At 1.4kg, it’s the kind of laptop you’ll be happy to sling in a bag and drag from a coffee shop to a client’s office and then back home. It has a good lineup of connections, including a USB-C and two USB 3 ports, but note the former can’t be used for charging: the Medion still requires a proprietary power cable. There’s no Ethernet port, but the Akoya offers 802.11ac Wi-Fi in a 2x2 configuration, giving you speeds of up to 866Mbits/sec if your router supports them.

Importantly, it’s also nice to use. The keyboard is illuminated with a gentle background glow, and while the keys are smaller than on the 14in and 15.6in laptops here, the layout makes it feel more spacious than it is. Even the undersized Shift key didn’t pose any touch-typing issues. The typing action is crisp and consistent across the width of the keyboard, while the large trackpad has a smooth surface, responsive integral buttons and enough finesse for multitouch gestures and fine control. 

The screen is equally good and, after the Asus, the second best on test. The 13.3in size and Full HD resolution is great for browsing the web or streaming Netflix, while there’s a depth of tone and colour that’s rarely seen on sub-£600 laptop displays. While colour accuracy isn’t quite up there with the Asus – we measured the average Delta E at 6.79 – the maximum brightness levels of 376cd/m² and sRGB coverage of 81% are quite impressive. 

The news isn’t quite so good when we get to sound, however. Despite a Dolby Audio Premium badge, we found it tinny and congested, getting harsher as you push the volume up. Fans of dustbin-lid drums and screechy vocals might disagree, but we wouldn’t want to spend too long listening before plugging some headphones in.

Battery life is the Medion’s biggest weakness – we eked just under six-and-a-half hours of looping video playback out of a charge, while some of its 14in rivals can last for another three hours or more. 

Luckily, the Akoya makes up for it on performance. With a Core i5-7200U processor, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, it’s something of a pocket rocket, sitting towards the top of this month’s result table. As long as you’re not looking to play games, run high-end 3D design packages or edit Ultra HD video, there’s little the Akoya won’t do. 

Buy the Medion Akoya S3409 now

Medion Akoya S3409 review: Verdict

Live with the mediocre battery life and a few rough edges, and you get a lot of power in a very compact chassis at a cut-down price.

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