It's been some time since I bought a new desktop computer. In fact I wondered when I got my netbook just after Christmas last year, if I would ever replace my desktop if it were to die. Why be lumbered with a computer that ties you to a desk when you can use a computer anywhere around the house?
Not long after I moved house my desktop stopped working. I found myself flying into a panic - had I backed up all my data? How would I cope linking my printer and scanner to a new computer, never mind starting again from scratch? Much as I love my little net book, at the end of the day when life beckoned without a desktop I knew I needed a new one.
I receive e-mails from Aldi twice a week announcing special offers and I was aware of the fact they were selling a Medion desktop computer for around £400. What appealed to me even more was the fact the computer came with a free three year warranty . For the past six years or so every desktop computer we had purchased had been Dell, but I was turned off them a bit when my daughter's Dell laptop developed a hard drive fault precisely two weeks outside the warranty period of one year.
So off I headed to Aldi to buy the Medion Akoya P61110 D (MD 8345), picking it up at a reduced price of £399.99 from the list price of £429.99.
~~What's in the Box?~~
Well you don't get a monitor with this - but as my Dell 19" widescreen monitor was still working a charm, that wasn't a problem for me. What you do get is the desktop tower, a wired keyboard and wired mouse, software discs, instruction manual, guarantee card and a power cable.
The Medion Akoya P6110 D is a piece of cake to set up. The computer comes with a Quick Set up Guide which explains where all your ports are and how to connect the various components together.
The computer has Windows 7 preinstalled and once you switch on your computer for the first time you just follow the prompts onscreen to get started. Bullguard anti-virus software is also included on a trial basis but I chose to uninstall this immediately and replace with AVG as I prefer to stick with what I know.
You also get a free 60 day trial of Microsoft Office, but again I chose to eschew this in favour of Microsoft Works software, which is also included.
Aldi also know the power of marketing with icons on the home screen linking you to the Aldi website homepage and a link to Aldi's photo shop.
Quite apart from the price and the three year warranty, the thing that really drew me to this desktop computer was the specifications.
This is a powerful multimedia PC which has a quad core AMD processor which is, I can promise you, incredibly fast. Not being bogged down by Vista is a huge help too, meaning the 3GB of memory keeps everything running smoothly and quickly.
The hard drive is a rather huge 1TB, meaning I can quite happily store my growing collection of films and TV shows on my computer (which I usually watch on my iPod in bed) without fear of the hard disk filling up too quickly.
The computer has a wireless LAN adaptor built in (which was essential for me as I am currently running my internet wirelessly throughout the house) and also has a multi format CD/DVD writer drive.
Lastly you have a well designed box which includes two USB slots at the front of the machine and another four at the back. The microphone and headphone jacks are at the front too which is a great touch in my opinion - so easy to just plug these in as opposed to digging around at the back of your computer finding the jacks for them. Underneath the sleek CD/DVD drive is a hidden memory card reader section - this can cope with all current flash memory cards although I have only used the SD card slot.
At the back there is one HDMI slot too - this isn't something I have yet used but it's a definite step forward for the future.
Having quickly realised a fair amount of thought had gone into the design of the computer which has a lovely black finish with a few silver trims to add to the sleek look, I was curious to know how good it would be to work with. You can tell the power is on thanks to some lovely blue lighting around the power switch and at the top of the machine around the front USB slots too.
When I first used the computer I was amazed at how quickly it booted up. My old Dell (with the emphasis on old) could sometimes take a good ten minutes to be fully ready to go if I wanted to surf the net, yet the Medion was up and running in less than two.
Even more staggering for me was how quickly it coped with me adding all the files I had backed up from my old computer on to a portable hard drive. In the past I have found myself waiting a couple of hours for my (admittedly large) collection of mp3s to be added to another computer, but they whizzed on to the Medion very quickly. Obviously it's not the kind of job that takes a few seconds but it certainly didn't take the usual few hours on this beauty.
Similarly, working with photographs is a joy. On my Dell if I did any work with photographs I knew my system would crawl to a halt very quickly due to a lack of virtual memory - and the fact the 1GB RAM couldn't cope with me doing anything else in the interim. On the Medion this is a thing of the past - I have been able to crop and enhance my photographs without my system grinding to a halt and requiring the entire program to be rebooted.
The Medion can easily cope with several programs running at the same time - which is perfect for me as I rarely have my computer just running one!
Of course the fact this is running on Windows 7 helps too - this is a huge improvement on Vista which I had limited experience of with my daughter's laptop but wasn't particularly impressed with. I made the transition from XP which was on my old desktop and is still on my netbook with comparative ease and find it a far more powerful yet paradoxically more simple operating system than Vista - or XP for that matter.
The desktop has an eSATA data port on the top of the computer for a Medion external hard drive, and this is another design detail which puts this desktop in a different league to others. Instead of having to remember to manually back up your documents if you purchase the Medion HDDrive 2 Go external hard drive you just attach it to the data port on the top of the computer and it will automatically back up your entire system once a week - or once a day if you so desire.
I had missed this gem of an idea when I purchased the desktop and decided to pay £79 a week after buying the desktop for the hard drive, which has 1TB memory and takes all the stress out of backing up your files. If you are interested in adding this to your system the model number is Medion E83740 (MD 90138) and I have seen it in Aldi periodically since I purchased mine two months ago.
Another great design touch is a built in mini USB port which is useful for charging up my daughter's Sansa Clip mp3 player - and can also be used to link any device which has a mini USB to the computer without the need to search around for the cable.
I use my desktop computer predominantly to surf the internet, type up and print documents, listen and store music and to store my growing collection of video files, so I must stress at this juncture that I haven't used this to watch DVDs or for gaming so I cannot add my thoughts on these aspects of computing for you. However the system is designed to ensure graphics are excellent with ATI Radeon HD 4200 graphics card included. Similarly sound is fantastic on this beast. I only have it set up with a 2.1 speaker system and the sound is good but it can cope with 8 channel surround sound if that's what you want to link up to your computer.
I have also used the desktop to edit and store photos and to continue restoring my family's old slide photographs and digitalising them and this has been a piece of cake on this desktop.
I appreciate Aldi isn't the first place most people would consider looking for a new desktop computer but I can wholeheartedly recommend the Medion Akoya P6110 D and would suggest if you are on the lookout for a new desktop computer that you consider this one.
It looks good but as a testament to good design it is completely functional too, with touches to make life a little easier for the user, but also to cut down on the mess of wires one tends to accumulate with a desktop computer. For me, the SATA port for an external hard drive on the top of the computer is a work of genius - once you have attached the hard drive to your computer you can more or less forget it's there because both items work together, independently of the user, safely backing up your computer for you.
In fact the only thing I would complain about this computer is the fact being black, it's a bit of a dust magnet, so be prepared to have to give this a dust down every day or two. But there really is nothing else I can complain about with this.
This really is a quality piece of kit and having recently had to return a faulty USB turntable to Aldi, I have every confidence in them to deliver on the warranty too, such is the high level of customer service they offer. This makes such a welcome change to some of the "bigger" UK retailers of computer items, especially for a woman as I tend to get treated as an imbecile by staff members there - as if women don't understand the first thing about computers.
Now I do not profess to be an expert but I have been using the internet for fifteen years now and personal computers have been part of my daily life for even longer, so I know a good piece of kit when I see one and I can heartily recommend the Medion Akoya PD6110 D as a powerful, sleek and hugely impressive multimedia PC.