Prior to Windows Vista, Microsoft’s Media Center PVR software was only available as a separate, top of the range edition of XP. With it now bundled as part of Vista Home Premium then all you need is the appropriate hardware to turn your machine into a full multimedia entertainment machine.
Medion has equipped the MD96215 laptop with everything you need to get the most out of Media Center including a digital TV tuner card and infrared remote control.
Media Center used to be reserved for higher end systems, so it’s refreshing to see both the hardware and software support in a laptop in this price range.
There’s plenty of disk space for storing TV recordings on the 160GB drive and the 1GB of RAM and Core Duo T2300E processor provide enough power for everyday tasks. There’s built-in Wi-Fi and a DVD writer and it features the newer ExpressCard expansion slot providing a degree of future proofing.
The remote control doesn’t need a USB dongle to receive the signals, which cuts down on the cable mess.
The pull out aerial that’s included with the TV card isn’t really up to the job of tuning into the relatively weak Freeview signals – you’ll need to hook it up to a stronger one to get decent reception.
To get the best out of the screen, you really need to be viewing it straight on – there’s not much leeway, which is a shame as it makes watching video with a group of people a bit of a problem.
The keyboard feels a little light to type on and the styling of the unit is fairly basic.
Processor: 1.67GHz Intel Core Duo T2300E
RAM: 1GB DDR2
Graphics: 64MB nVidia GeForce Go 7400
Screen: 15.4in, 1,280×800
Drives: 160GB hard drive, multi format DVD writer
Ports and connections: 3 x USB, modem, network, 1 x 4-pin Firewire, VGA, S-Video, 1 x ExpressCard, memory card reader, headphone, line-in, microphone, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi
Dimensions and weight: 435x350x30mm, 2.8kg
Medion has packed at lot into the MD96215’s £599.99 price tag, providing not just a decent laptop but also full Media Center capabilities.
It’s a shame the screen has a slightly restrictive viewing angle and the keyboard and styling feel a little basic. However, the rest of the spec is competitive for a machine in this price bracket.
Related sites: Medion MD96215