Hands on: Aldi's budget HDMI laptop

Medion's new Akoya laptop lauches in Aldi this month - cheap-as-chips HDMI laptop for movie buffs
Medion's new Akoya laptop lauches in Aldi this month - cheap-as-chips HDMI laptop for movie buffs

Bargain-bucket supermarket chain Aldi is set to release its latest top-value laptop this month, with the Medion Akoya E6210 notebook packing in plenty of features and a credit-crunch-beating £450 price tag.

If you are a fan of downloading HD movies (legally, of course!) then this could well be the laptop of choice for under £500, as the E6210 not only features HDMI output (for plugging into the telly at home) but also a 16-inch TFT widescreen screen with a lovely and crisply focused picture quality in a 16:9 format, supporting 1366x768 pixels.

Ideal for watching movies on the go. Or even at work (when the boss is out!).

Aldi's latest comes with Windows Vista Premium (which, if you are like us, you'll upgrade to the Windows 7 beta immediately) and, unlike most vendors these days, also comes with a three-year warranty.

Value-tastic HD viewing

But is it any good? £450 is still a lot of money, particularly in these recession-darkened times we are living through. And, if you are still very lucky, you can still pick up a few bargains and get a similarly-specced laptop elsewhere in the January sales.

Speed-wise the Intel Pentium Dual Core T3400 processor combined with 3GB RAM and an Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 4500MHD means that the new Medion is perfectly capable of performing most work tasks and processor-intensive tasks such as home video-editing. Though to enjoy the latest 3D games, you'll want to look to spend just a little bit more on a beefier graphics option.

You can keep a bunch of your favourite MP3s and movies on the 250GB hard drive, and even stream them wirelessly around the house with the E6210 high speed wireless capabilities.

At a £450 price point, it seems a little fatuous to pick holes in the design and 'look and feel' of the E6210, but for TechRadar it is probably the only thing that slightly lets down this otherwise solid, high-performance laptop. It looks rather bland and the trackpad design is pretty 'fugly' (although we were later to discover that it possessed some rather clever, initially hidden magic tricks).

The only other real criticism that we have would be that Medion could have popped a Blu-ray drive in for an extra £40 or so, making this a proper next gen contender. Perhaps we'll need to wait for the company's next Aldi special to see that one...

TechRadar checked out a number of other laptops in the same price range this week, and they are all much of a muchness. If you want a laptop that looks sexy, you are going to have to shell out that little bit extra for a Sony or an Apple, it seems.

Those li'l hidden extras

It is the little extras that the E6210 packs in that places it heads and shoulders above the rest of the value-laptop crowd. Stuff like the 8x Multistandard Re-Writer drive, the long life 8-cell Li-on extended use battery, the built-in with 4-in-1 memory card reader, eSATA port and a Gigabyte Ethernet LAN port.

Discovering the iPhone-a-like finger-thumb pinch control works on the trackpad (ie to zoom in and out of documents or photos) was a great example of Medion shoving in quality, very helpful little extra features without even shouting about them. You just cannot complain about getting fun and useful extras without even realising it.

The keyboard is a joy to type on and also has an integrated numeric keypad. It feels solid and we have happily been bashing away on it all week. If you are after a well-specced, no-nonsense laptop for under £500 then head over to Aldi's next week – the Medion Akoya E6210 goes on sale Thursday.

Be quick though. Because this WILL sell out. And make sure to get some of that nice Parma ham and those tasty olives while you're at it... More over on Aldi's website.

Adam Hartley