Medion is launching an 18.4in screen Blu-ray laptop next week with a 320GB hard disk and a £799 inc VAT price tag. The Akoya P8610 will be sold through Tesco Direct and, for the first time, Blockbuster.
The Akoya P8610 will be the first piece of hardware that the film rental company has offered. Medion will also sell the Akoya direct through its web shop.
Medion is attempting to distinguish itself as more than a supplier of laptops to supermarkets using its Akoya branded products. As with the P8610, these typically have a relatively high specification so they can compete with well-known brands such as Sony while offering better value for money.
In line with this ethos, the Akoya P8610 is the company's first ever Dolby Home Theatre-certified product. Rick Munday, Medion UK's product manager, stressed that while almost any product can be described as a Dolby Digital product, few are actually Dolby-certified or have Dolby-developed audio management features.
Dolby demonstrated the natural bass and 5.1 audio settings at its London offices yesterday, along with specific settings for expanding the audio when the integrated speaker bar is being used and for headphone use.
The Akoya P8610 also has an HDMI output and can be hooked up to a digital TV for enhanced audio playback. The HDMI cable needs to be bought separately, though these have now dropped to as little as £12 each.
Other specifications include 512MB nVidia 9600 M GS DX10 graphics, 4GB of SDRAM and an Intel Core 2 Duo T5800 processor. Medion fits a Blu-ray ROM drive and Blu-ray films and HD video footage can be viewed using the CyberLink Power DVD BD Edition software bundled with the laptop.
The standard specification for the Medion Akoya P8610 is a 32bit Vista Home Premium model, but 64bit Vista is provided should users prefer to install this. The laptop also comes with a dual-TV tuner that can show one Freeview programme while another is recorded.
Selling laptops and other hardware is an experiment for Blockbuster, which is keen to bolster consumer interest in high-definition movies. Last month it launched a movie download service in the UK.
Consumer electronics companies were hoping that Christmas 2008 would see a big uplift in sales of standalone DVD players, but the credit crunch probably hasn't done it too many favours. And with standard DVDs costing £3 to £5 except when first launched, there seems little imperative for consumers to buy a £15 to £20 Blu-ray copy of the same title.
Laptops, however, have become increasingly good value commodities and represent a relatively low-cost entry point to high-definition video.