So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Pioneer Computers Australia DreamVision VIIV MiniPC
- Tiny, Looks great, Powerful enough for basic functionality
- Low storage capacity
If you want an incredibly small media centre PC for basic media functionality then the DreamVision Mini is a great choice. It isn't a powerhouse by any means, but it's diminutive design certainly makes up for this in some regards.
Price$ 1,499.00 (AUD)
When we hear 'media centre', we think of a big, boxy device a little larger than a DVD player. So when the Pioneer DreamVision VIIV Mini PC arrived at the office, sporting a design smaller than most external hard disks, we couldn't help but take notice. While this device isn't the most powerful media centre on the market, it fills a unique niche for those that want an efficient space saver to replace multiple devices in their lounge room.
The most striking thing about this unit is its size. We have never seen such a compact media centre before. Measuring just 22.5 x 17 x 4.5cm it is barely bigger than an old optical drive and, considering it can replace your DVD player, PVR and Set Top Box, it makes an extremely efficient space saver. It also weighs just 1.6 kilograms so it is highly portable should you want to take it on the road.
Size isn't the only thing the DreamVision has going for it though. Finished in shiny black, with a dark plastic DVD tray and smooth side ventilation this unit it will be right at home in any modern home entertainment cabinet.
After our initial impression of this system, we began to worry that the DreamVision's small chassis couldn't possibly house enough power to adequately drive a media centre, but our benchmarking process quickly allayed these fears. Scoring 5604 in 3DMark01 and 84 in WorldBench 5 the DreamVision has more than enough power to handle day-to-day media tasks.
The dual core Intel Core Duo T2300 operates at a speed of 1.66GHz and combined with the 1GB of RAM proved more than adequate in our media testing, although this system definitely isn't what we'd call a powerhouse. While some of the desktop media centres out there these days are considerably more powerful, this is only really useful if you're doing more complex things like encoding media, or recording and watching simultaneously.
That however, is one thing you can't do on this system. Some things simply had to be sacrificed when crafting this diminutive machine. The unit only includes a single TV tuner. This still enables you to watch and record television through the DreamVision, but doesn't match the flexibility that dual card systems offer, which offers the ability to record and watch two different shows simultaneously.
The DreamVision only comes with 80GB of hard disk space, which is pretty minimal compared to many larger units, but considering its size we didn't expect much more. 80GB is enough for music listening and some basic TV recording, and you can back up your video files every so often to help circumvent this problem somewhat. Ideally this model would have a higher storage capacity, but sacrifices have to be made to keep such a tiny form factor.
It supports all the usual connectivity options including gigabyte Ethernet and 802.11a/b/g wireless. Bluetooth support also comes natively. It has four USB ports, as well as Firewire, SPDIF and a single DVI output. This could potentially be an issue for older televisions that don't support DVI, but adapters can be purchased that will convert the signal to another format.
We found this unit to be extremely quiet. Opening it up revealed a single large fan that wasn't audible unless you were right up close. Nonetheless, it did a great job keeping everything cool and with the miniature components barely putting out any heat to begin with a powerful cooler is unnecessary.
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