Dreambook 805 Review

Mikey 4 comments
Dreambook 805 Review

Choosing a notebook is no easy task. With countless configurations and brands available, finding something suitable for your needs can be challenging. But like every technological purchase, the first question to ask yourself is "what do I need my notebook to do?"

Generally speaking, all notebooks are up to just about any task, with the exception being applied to notebooks that require a specific purpose - like playing video games or editing music and video.

Aside from that, you can expect just about any notebook to run your office applications and browsing web sites without any difficulties. The question then becomes, "How fast do I need it to be?"

After debating these questions, the Pioneer Dreambook Slim800 series looked like a tasty option, with half a gig of RAM, 40gig hard disc and Pentium M 1.7 gighz CPU. Modest specs by today's standards, but for email, office and web, these specs are probably overkill.


Processor Intel Pentium-M 1.7GHz Processor 725
Display 15.4" Widescreen XGA (1280x800) TFT Screen
Graphics Up to 64MB Intel 900 Graphics
Memory 512MB 533MHz DDR2 RAM
Hard Drive 40GB 4,200RPM Ultra-ATA Hard Drive
HD Partition Single Partition
Optical Drive 8x DVD/24x CD-RWCombo Drive
Integrated Options 802.11B/G Wireless Module 350S/120/805/805X/400AE/800
Operating System None
Warranty Options 1 Year On-Site Pickup and Return Warranty
Carry Bag Pioneer Standard Notebook Carry Bag
Software Driver CD
Connectivity 3 x USB2, 1394, Audio out, Mic, 10/100 LAN, Internal 56k Modem, PS2, Monitor out.

Form factor.
Living up to its name sake, the Dreambook Slim is indeed; slim. Stylish silver and black adorn the light weight notebook, with ports located in the usual places on the back and on the side, and firewire, USB2 and audio on the front for convenience.

As we opted to purchase without an operating system, I am happy to report that installing a stock standard version of XP Pro was hassle free. Service Pack 2 also went on without any dramas. The provided driver CD contained everything we needed to set up sound, display and connectivity, however the driver for the wireless adapter was curiously completely wrong. It was not until calling technical support that I was directed to the correct driver on their web site.

Once the wireless driver was installed, connecting to a wireless network was painless. The 802.11B/G connection was surprisingly fast, with download speeds easily averaging 300kb/second, which is nearly 1/3 of my cable speed.

Office applications launch quickly and smoothly. Browsing the web using Firefox is quick and steady. We did not test Internet Exploiter but no doubt the response would be satisfactory as well.

Photoshop proved to be a different story, even though I do not intend to use the notebook to perform heavy graphics work. Photoshop loves to eat RAM, so if you do not purge regularly the swap disc starts to take its turn, forcing long wait times between tasks. Having said that, 512mb is hardly anything for serious Photoshop use. 1gig would be a little more comfortable.

Display quality.
The 64mb Intel display is capable of rendering without any noticeable slow image refreshing. Having many applications open did cause the display to render slowly when switching between them, but once again having more than 5 applications running simultaneously is not a common occurrence on the notebook.

The native 1280 x 800 widescreen display is vibrant and looks great. No dead pixels to report which makes it even better. Unfortunately the screen has no protection like a lot of other recent notebooks do, so we opted to keep the clear plastic sheet it shipped with over the display, as our 2 year old like to draw on every surface she is exposed too.

DVD movies and DivX play at full screen with no noticeable ghosting. And they look lush. Perfect for watching movies in bed or on the bus ride to work.

It should be noted this laptop is certainly not intended for gaming of any sort, but being the geek that I am, I could not help but install a few classics just to satisfy my curiosity.

Instead of taking the unrealistic approach of installing F.E.A.R., Half Life 2, or any other recent high spec game, I went for a few oldies: Battlezone II, Quake 3 and Il2 Sturmovik. To my absolute delight, all these games were playable on medium to high settings.

Don't expect to be replacing your Harman Karman speaker set up anytime soon. As with most notebooks, the best sound you can hope to gain when watching movies or playing games is with headphones. Otherwise, the Outlook notify.wav sounds fine through the speakers.

Batterly life.
Claims of a 3 hour battery life were not far from being true. With some careful power saving options set you can easily extend the battery life.

The graphs below show the notebook compared to my desktop PC, which consists of an AMD 2gighz CPU, 1.5gb of DDR333, Radeon 9800 Pro video card, Abit NS7 motherboard, and 2 Seagate 7200 RPM IDE 150gb hard drives. Windows XP Pro with SP2 is also installed.

Both systems were testing using Passmark's Performance Test benchmarking application.

Test Name Dreambook 805 AMD Desktop
CPU - Integer Math 54.79 63.19
CPU - Floating Point Math 190.93 353.21
CPU - Find Prime Numbers 224.01 135.27
CPU - SSE/3DNow! 1392.91 1302.61
CPU - Compression 1599.36 1849.29
CPU - Encryption 10.00 11.69
CPU - Image Rotation 248.29 174.58
CPU - String Sorting 1046.16 825.79
Graphics 2D - Lines 79.14 182.24
Graphics 2D - Rectangles 43.57 82.25
Graphics 2D - Shapes 23.37 30.37
Graphics 2D - Fonts and Text 99.72 173.58
Graphics 2D - GUI 151.59 470.15
Graphics 3D - Simple 251.59 1137.36
Graphics 3D - Medium 37.37 180.77
Graphics 3D - Complex 5.72 19.86
Memory - Allocate Small Block 1233.98 1223.34
Memory - Read Cached 1194.73 957.71
Memory - Read Uncached 1108.60 545.68
Memory - Write 569.36 534.82
Memory - Large RAM 51.33 183.27
Disk - Sequential Read 24.95 34.71
Disk - Sequential Write 25.14 52.28
Disk - Random Seek + RW 1.51 2.45
CD - Read 1.60 2.88
CPU Mark 402.60 374.53
2D Graphics Mark 268.42 576.63
Memory Mark 307.40 254.68
Disk Mark 186.60 323.51
CD Mark 195.45 352.96
3D Graphics Mark 94.31 428.19
PassMark Rating 267.84 375.55

From this we can easily see where the desktop beats (wipes the floor with) the notebook, but surprisingly the Dreambook did win on some tests.

Service and Support.
Luckily so far there has been no need to service the notebook. Pioneer Computers sales staff were surprisingly keen to be of assistance, fast tracking my order and expediting the notebook faster than usual at my request. Also, giving me the option of upgrading to the Pentium-M 1.7GHz CPU (because they didn't have the 1.6 in stock) for only an additional $50 was a pleasant and unexpected surprise.

Technical support staff were pleasant and helpful when guiding me through their FTP site when I needed to find the correct driver. Even when their FTP server crashed they remained calm until it rebooted and continued to guide me.

Overall impression.
The thought of spending $1400 online for a product on the other side of the country was daunting at first, as we did not know what to expect. But everything went as smooth as it could have, and I would have no qualms ordering from Pioneer Computers again.

It has been over a month and so far so good. Adding more RAM will give a clear benefit when running multiple apps, but for general office and web duties the performance is better than expected from a low cost notebook.

Highly recommended for anyone in the market for a budget notebook.
Not a Member!


Saturday 15th April 2006 | 07:46 PM

thanks for the review mike. I wish I had seen thi sreview before I purchased the same notebook because it would have made the decision easier. its a great machine anyway so it all worked out in the end.

Not a Member!


Sunday 16th April 2006 | 07:08 PM

Thanx for the review! I have been thinking about getting this notebook but good information on it is scarce. Based on what I have read I think we will buy it now. Lucky for me this article is on the top of a google search. If I have the same WLAN driver issue can I email you for it?

Not a Member!


Sunday 23rd April 2006 | 12:59 AM

Good one Mike. Would it handle games like MOHAA? Or even MOHPA? And is the graphics card primarily opengl or directx. I know low end Intel chipsets typically favour opengl.

Not a Member!


Wednesday 30th July 2008 | 05:23 PM

i still feel its to expensive
as i feel u can get this kind of conf. at much cheaper price

Add a comment

Login to Rusty Lime

Not registered? | Forgot your Password? Cancel Login