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Medion Akoya P8610 review

Barry de la Rosa
25 Feb 2009
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
780
inc VAT
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Specifications

The P8610 is a huge laptop with a large18.4in screen. It also provides plenty of opportunities to make the most of that screen, as it comes with a dedicated graphics chipset for games, a Blu-ray drive for movies and a digital TV tuner.

Its black plastic case looks a little bland and doesn't feel particularly sturdy. Opening the lid reveals a shiny black panel around the keyboard, with blue touch-sensitive media controls along the left side and a large speaker grille above it. While these lend the P8610 a touch of design flair, they can't overcome the impression that this is a budget laptop case.

The screen has a native resolution of 1,680x945, and its 16:9 aspect ratio is well suited for watching widescreen movies and TV. The glossy finish attracts reflections from bright light sources, but it helps improve contrast. Sadly, the image quality simply isn't up to the standard of an LCD TV. When watching a Blu-ray movie, we found the colour accuracy comparatively poor and, as with all laptop displays, there's no direct way to adjust the colour settings. These criticisms could be levelled at most laptops, but they're more significant with a model intended for movie playback. There's an HDMI output for connecting an HD TV, though.

The keyboard is large and includes a number pad. The keys are all full-sized and have adequate travel, but they're flat and hard to distinguish from their neighbours by touch. They also wobble slightly when pressed, especially the top row. The touch pad is large but its shiny surface can get sticky, and the buttons are wobbly and have little travel.

The bundled TV tuner fits into the ExpressCard/54 slot. It comes with a mini aerial, but you're unlikely to get good reception from this, and we used the supplied adaptor to plug it into a roof aerial. A wireless Media Center remote is provided. You'll need to plug in its USB dongle but it doesn't need line of sight to work. The big screen makes watching TV much more pleasurable than on most laptops, and you can record your favourite shows to the 320GB hard disk

Sound from the built-in speakers was clear and loud, but although it had a surprising amount of bass, it sounded compressed and tinny at the top end. The Dolby Home Theater software helps to expand the soundstage and boost bass.

The large screen is great for gaming, although the graphics chipset isn't up to running modern games at its full resolution - as the Call of Duty 4 benchmark score of 17.8fps shows. We found that it ran smoothly at a resolution of 1,024x768 with anti-aliasing turned off, producing 30.2fps. It isn't ideal for the latest 3D action titles, but it can handle most current games at low detail settings.

A switch selects between the dedicated graphics chipset and the onboard one. This Eco mode shaved just 200 points off its PC Mark Vantage score but added 47 minutes to the battery life. The benefits are debatable on a laptop of this size, though, as you're unlikely to carry it far from a power socket.

The P8610 isn't brilliant for either games or Blu-ray playback, but for only £780 including VAT you get a decent specification, massive display, Blu-ray drive, TV tuner, Dolby-enhanced audio and a Media Center remote. It's great value, although you should also consider the Asus X71SL.

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