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Back around Christmas cheap and cheerful Supermarket chain Aldi started knocking out these players made by an obscure German company named Medion.  I was in the market for a second player for my bedroom and had heard some excellent reports of a player that was selling at £99 yet offered great performance and a plethora of features.  I decided to get one and see what all the fuss was about.

Exterior


The Medion is coloured in the now almost standard silver and is certainly not unpleasant to look at.  The front panel goes for a minimalist approach with only the essential buttons actually present on the player.  The player weighs in at 6kg and, as it is encased in metal, feels far more solid than some of its plastic peers.

The front has a bright and clear LCD display below the centrally positioned disc tray, this is flanked by three tiny buttons on either side which operate the basic play, stop, pause etc functions.  These buttons are quite small and hard with very little give and are actually quite harsh to touch and offer very little feedback.  There is no reassuring click as you press the buttons, but this is a minor quibble.  To the very left is the power button and standby light and on the right are a 6.3mm headphone jack and its associated volume dial.  The Medion logo is unobtrusive in the top right corner and the only other labels are the desirable presence of the Dolby Digital and DTS logos.

Medion 7950a
Round the back, or what I call the business end, of the player are all the expected outputs.  The player offers both Optical and Coaxial Digital Outputs whereas some players nowadays tend to leave one or the other off to cut costs.  I always prefer to have both as it offers you then chance to choose which you prefer, and of course, saves any hassle if your Amp of choice does not have both types.  The player also offers six phono sockets for its integrated 5.1 sound output but I personally have not tested these.  A complete selection of video outputs is provided, courtesy of a SCART socket, S-Video port and three Video-Out ports and three Component-Out ports.  Switching between Component out to one of the other three types is via a small manual switch on the back.

Features


Despite its budget status the Medion doesn’t skimp on features either and, as well as DVDs, can also play Audio CDs, Video CDs and even MP3 CDs.  I’ve tested the Medion with silver discs, CDRs, CDRWs and its managed to play them all – a lot of players are fussy on the types of CD they will read.  The ability to play MP3 discs can be really handy if you have a large MP3 collection as its easy to burn your own CD with several hours worth of music compared to the standard 74 minutes you would normally get.

One of my favourite features is the ability to Fast Forward (Or Rewind) at anywhere from 2x to 20x – this enables you to get to the bits of film you want to review quickly and easily and implemented a lot better than on some other players.  

The player is easily made region free via a simple handset hack.  Now that we live in the dark days of RCE this player has another plus point in that a specific region can also be selected thus solving the issues region free players have with these troublesome discs.  The one flaw with this is that although there is a region hack there is no way of disabling Macrovision like many players can but provided your Medion is outputting directly to your TV this isn’t a problem.  The Medion can output both PAL and NTSC signals but as far as I could ascertain it does not seem to output a pure RGB signal via the SCART socket.   The Medion works fine in my Panasonic TV but not with my Sony.

As with most players the usual on screen menus are available which allow you to configure the player settings with the option to set language, subtitle and audio defaults as well as the useful Parental Lock settings.  These are easy to set and I personally operated them without referring to the manual.

The Medion remote is a good size although I would prefer it to be a little more “solid” feeling – it is made from very light plastic and feels as if it would be easily cracked if accidentally sat on or similar.

Video


The picture quality of the Medion is where it is most let down.  While it is a match for players in its own price range, the Medion is some way behind a number of the players you can purchase in the £200 to £300 bracket.  The lack of RGB is a big factor in the poor picture quality, although PAL discs seem a lot clearer than NTSC discs.  The picture is most noticeable on End Credits when the text is often very hard to read. There is just no crispness to it.  If you have a good quality, large screen TV, I suggest you steer clear and move up to a higher price band player.

Audio


The Medion can output Pro-logic, Dolby Digital and DTS bit-streams effortlessly but, when connected to my Yamaha 496 Amp, I get sound drop-outs intermittently on about 20% of my discs – a problem I have never had with my Pioneer 525.  While some discs are affected more than others are, the problem has occurred both on DD and DTS discs.

The quality of the sound normally though is very good and combined with my amplifier is both powerful and rich.  The quality of sound from Audio CD and MP3 is also very good, and those on a budget could use the Medion in place of a CD Player in a Hi-fi separates system.

Overall


As far as I am aware the Medion is no longer on sale in Britain, which is a real shame - for those on a budget, the Medion player would make an excellent choice.  While it is not the best player in the world, it certainly is one of the best in its price range – in fact, I would say the best at the sub £100 price point but then there have not been many of these.  If I was given the chance of buying a second player again I would probably save up a bit more and buy different player but that’s more because I’m a real stickler for perfection and hate finding any flaws in my choice of hardware.


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