Medion Akoya LS
The Medion Akoya LS is a little white laptop with a baby-blue-ringed power button. This Microsoft Works 8-loaded starter is an okay choice for first-time buyers looking to get in the mobile game before moving up. But those who want a user-upgradable unit that will meet their needs for a long time to come may want to keep budget shopping. You can't upgrade the LS's 60GB hard drive, and to boost the 512MB of RAM it ships with you'll have to return the unit to Best Buy, currently the only place that sells (or upgrades) Medion notebooks.
What the LS does offer is a relatively low retail price of about $1100, a light weight of 4.8 pounds (not counting the power adapter), and a long battery life of almost 4 hours in our tests.
Moderately equipped for its class, the Akoya LS includes a bright 12.1-inch screen with a readable native resolution of 1280 by 800 pixels. The unit also features a three-in-one slot that accepts SD and Memory Stick cards. Ports include network and modem jacks, three USB 2.0 ports, and FireWire. The unit comes equipped for 802.11g Wi-Fi, including a handy status light and an on/off button. However, the built-in optical drive is limited to a combination DVD-ROM/CD-RW unit, which means you can burn CDs but not DVDs. Probably of less concern--unless you intend to make presentations--is the fact the LS lacks a TV-out port, a fairly standard laptop feature for using a television set as a monitor.
The Akoya performed pretty well for a laptop outfitted with the midrange 1.6-GHz Pentium M 730 processor, earning a WorldBench 5 score of 72. It should be able to handle basic applications, e-mail, and more with no problem. Another plus is the keyboard, in a contrasting matte-silver with black lettering. I found typing easy, despite the half-size <Shift> key and a shallower key depression than on a full-size keyboard. For pointing, the LS provides a small touchpad and two mouse buttons. At the edge of the keyboard sits a status panel with icons that light up in a soothing pale blue.
Atop the keyboard is the Wi-Fi button and two other preset hot buttons, which launch a browser and AOL 9.0. A third, Windows Explorer button can be reprogrammed. Like most small laptops, the Akoya is adept at multimedia tasks. A letterboxed DVD movie looked fine on the small wide-screen display, but the unit's stereo speakers, located in the lower part of the screen frame, sound feeble.
The user manual should make novices happy; it not only identifies the laptop's features, but it also answers basic computing questions such as "What is a Window?" It fails to mention more difficult issues, though, such as what to do when you need more storage or when you want your applications to run faster.
The Akoya LS is an adequate choice for budget shoppers who do not need top-shelf laptop connections or who don't want to delve into a computer's innards to perform their own upgrades.
Medion Akoya LS
WorldBench 5 score of 72, 1.6-GHz Pentium M 730 processor, 512MB of DDR SDRAM, Windows XP Home, 12.1-inch wide-screen, 60GB hard drive, DVD-ROM and CD-RW combo drive, V.90 modem, 10/100 ethernet, 802.11g, touchpad pointing device, 5.7-pound weight (including AC adapter). One-year parts and labor warranty, 24-hour daily toll-free support.
Medion Akoya LS