This was sent in by one of AtA’s faithful readers, Dan. We all know an Admins job is never done and time is a commodity but Dan was nice enough to send us this review. 600 bucks seems to go a lot further than it used to laptop wise. If your willing to look into a brand called Aldi. And no Dan doesn’t work for them. :)

I picked this up a few weeks ago [week of 10/28], at Aldi. They previously sold a desktop PC

http://www.medion.de/md8825/us/flash.html the week of 9/30.

Pros:

Windows Vista® Home Premium, a padded bag and IR mouse, Media Center, 2 GB DDR2 SDRAM, AMD Athlon? 64 X2 Dual-Core processor TK-53, 160 GB SATA HDD, built-in webcam [VGA], 15.4″ TFT Wide-XGA display with 1280×800 pixels [16:10 widescreen], 2 year pickup/repair/return warranty.

Yes, there are those who’ll say, “You could build one from parts, cheaper, bla, bla…”, frankly, they can bite me.

Bundled: MS Works 9 and Office Home and Student 2007 Trial, Bullguard 7 security suite. They included a screen protector [a thin spongy rectangle you lay on the keyboard prior to closing the screen] and a screen cleaning cloth.

I spent a good chunk of time doing comparisons with everything else available, couldn’t find a match [at that time] at that price, [$599] even with Vista Home, even applying educational /corporate discounts. I picked up the Medion roll-up keyboard and USB TV tuner too from the same sale.

I’ve decided to not make all the changes I usually do to a PC and leave fast-user switching and all the silly animations turned on, this one is for the family.

Vista is running just fine, on this laptop, despite what’s been reported in wxpnews.com.

Although it is part of the OS, not the machine, the Vista parental controls are something your readers would really appreciate, similar to the user logon hours/ time control built into AD that was brought over from NT server. It will definitely lock out the kids, when their time is up, leaving their applications running for the next day.

The machine has buttons for switching the wireless on and off, [which is becoming more common], and for the Media Player/Media Center, as well as 2 programmable buttons. The track pad has built-in hot spots, for common functions, launch browser, launch email client, volume control, mute, media controls and again, 2 programmable hot spots. A tap on the mode hot spot turns these on and off.

Power, 3 USB ports, SD, CF, 1394, RJ11, RJ45, external monitor and s-video, mike and audio out are on the sides, so you don’t have to reach around the back for anything, except to lock it to a desk.. Also on the side is a digital audio port, which enhances the DVD experience.

The back of the display is a high gloss black plastic cover, which can be removed and replaced with the designs available at http://www.medion.com/individual/ .

The battery seems to last forever, so I don’t really know how long it lasts.

Cons:

Aldi only gets two or three computers at each store and they go fast. The store only take cash or debit cards. I suggest getting on their email list. The cover replacements are pricey. The glossy cover gets smudgy. There are heat-release vents on the bottom, so you may want to invest in a lap tray. I’ve read where the parental controls can’t be used in a domain, which many people are building at home. I imagine they would apply a server-based solution, anyway. The webcam should have been partnered with an integrated microphone. The Bullguard trial nag screen can’t be removed unless you buy it. Bullguard does not seem to slow the machine down any, so if asked, I’d probably recommend it. [Product Page]

Dan