Pioneer Computers Australia DreamBook Slim 8858
- Not as solid value for money as a Core Duo system
This AMD Turion 64 TL60 based notebook is a powerful machine. The extra 1GB of RAM helps boost its performance, but with all DIMM slots full there's no more room for upgrading and you're essentially looking at the best this notebook can do.
Price$ 2,399.00 (AUD)
Pioneer has built some powerful notebooks before and the DreamBook Slim 8858, with a 2GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 Dual Core CPU is a good example of this. Though it isn't as impressive as some of the Core 2 Duo notebooks we've seen recently, including Pioneer's own M57U, this machine is still capable of handling 64-bit programs like Windows Vista and showed some reasonable results in our tests.
The 15.4in WXGA widescreen, with a max resolution of 1280x800 has only average brightness and equally standard contrast, but viewing angles are reasonably good both vertically and horizontally. The screen as a whole is sturdy enough, showing only slight distortion when physically flexed.
In World Bench 5 the Pioneer Slim scored 96, a good result, which suggests it should have sufficient power to run most programs from anti-virus software to Microsoft Office. As well as having a dual core CPU, this notebook comes installed with 2GB (2x1GB) of 533MHz DDR2 RAM, which makes multi-tasking easy and fast. Checking your email, typing a document and surfing the web run simultaneously without any hitches.
We also ran 3DMark 2001 SE to test the rendering capabilities of the ATI Radeon X1100 graphics card, but weren't surprised by the average score of 5367 as this is not a high-end card. We don't suggest you use this notebook for any serious video editing or playing 3D games.
In battery-life tests it didn't perform exceptionally, lasting 174 minutes in MobileMark 2005's reader test (a simulation of minimal usage or a best case scenario simulation). While this result is consistent with similarly sized Pioneer systems, like the DreamBook Light 822, and does surpass some notebooks from other manufacturers, it could still be better.
The 120GB SATA (5400rpm) hard drive should be large enough for most people's requirements. A DVD re-writable drive with dual layer capabilities is installed so any excess data can be easily burned to disc. This also means you can watch a DVD movie on the road. The speakers have a very hollow and tinny sound that is devoid of any bass, but an S/PDIF optical output is available for higher quality audio should you wish to watch movies or listen to your music from this notebook on a regular basis.
Wi-Fi is 802.11 b/g and there's also Bluetooth, as well as 10/100Mbps Ethernet LAN and a 56Kbps modem installed. Four USB 2.0 ports have been included and both VGA and S-Video are also provided. The chassis is fairly sturdy, displaying very little flex when stress tested and should handle a bit of travelling. Overall it is fairly comfortable to use. The keys are nicely spaced and the touchpad is responsive. Measuring 359mm x 255mm x 34mm and weighing 2.8kg, it is about average size for a notebook in this category.
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Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.
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