The Medion MD8828 goes on sale in Aldi stores this Sunday. As we reported yesterday, it's a £630 PC with a great spec. But it's main selling point is the integrated LG Super Multi Blue HD DVD and Blu-ray combo drive. The same drive we looked at a couple of months ago with a list price of £510. It's a funny thing, pricing. Medion sent us one of the first units to take a look at, so here are the first impressions of two of the Tech.co.uk team.
Maybe it comes from constantly being on the receiving end of an endless stream of PR spin. But when we hear of products that offer "sensational" value for money, our automatic reaction is "what's the catch?"
Well, the £630 Medion MD8828 doesn't have a monitor for starters, but this is a media PC after all and not designed to work exclusively with a PC monitor, so that's forgivable.
That aside, however, the MD8828 gives no visual clue to its budget price tag. The front panel is an understated affair dressed in piano black - clearly an effort to make it look at home in the lounge as well as the office.
The optical drive and a series of ports are concealed behind subtly disguised panels, with just the power button, a single Play button and the Medion logo breaking the smooth lines. This makes it all too easy to forget the main selling point of this PC - that dual-format LG Super Multi Blue HD DVD/Blu-ray drive concealed within. While the rest of the specification is average for a PC at this price point, a high-def optical drive certainly is not.
And our fear that Medion had skimped on connections to keep costs down proved unfounded too. HDMI, component video, S-video and even Scart are catered for alongside a total of eight USB ports, two FireWire and - impressively - an eSATA connection.
The supplied remote control is neat and compact, but the buttons are very small and closely arranged, so may prove troublesome for those with large fingers. I think it's a great PC.
The Windows Vista Experience Score isn't exactly the most comprehensive benchmark, but 5.0 (only let down by the paltry GS variant of the GeForce 8600 card) isn't anything to be ashamed of.
This is a pretty comprehensive system and the sheer amount of kit on offer here is quite staggering. A 2.66GHz Core 2 Duo, 2GB RAM and 500GB hard drive makes for a supreme core and the Home Premium Edition of Windows Vista introduces Media Center to the package, too.
This is designed as a media centre PC. As Martin has said above, there is a plethora of outputs on the box and it's the first time we've ever seen Scart on the back of a PC. And its main media PC bonus is that it is a quiet box.
However, the form factor does put us off - would you really have it in your living room? Also on the looks front, the frontage is rather plasticky in our book while the cordless mouse and keyboard included in the pack are an absolute waste of time. They didn't work properly when we tried them, while they're hardly the best-built peripherals you've ever seen.
Yet, for the money, the Medion MD8828 is a steal. But it would be even more of a steal if it didn't have the HD DVD and Blu-ray drive in it and £200 lopped off the price. Unless you're specifically interested in HD disc viewing - and nobody really seems that fussed yet - the drive seems a luxury. Yet we can't view the PC as a whole like that. You just get so very much for your money.