DreamBook Style M76 1TU Review

Mikey 10 comments
DreamBook Style M76 1TU Review

It's about time I got a new laptop, and given my line of work it's surprising I waited this long. Choosing the right machine can be a hit and miss affair and as Rodney recently pointed out when reviewing his own laptop, sometimes it can be a huge disappointment.

So it's helpful to know a bit about computer components when it comes to customising a new laptop. And when I built mine I made sure I got what I wanted - a nice balance between portability and performance.

The DreamBook Style M761TU from Pioneer Computers is no slouch. Here's what I got them to put into it.

CPU Intel Core 2 Duo 2.0 GHz T6400 64 bit 2M Cache 800Mhz 45mm
Display 15.4" Widescreen WXGA (1280x800) TFT Crystal Bright Screen
Graphics : nVIDIA GeForce 9300M GS 256M PCI-E
Memory 4GB (2 x 2GB) 800MHz DDR2
Hard Drive 2.5" 250GB 7,200RPM Serial-ATA
Optical Drive 8x DVD-/+RW Dual Layer Drive
Integrated option 802.11B/G Wirless module
Integrated option Built-in Bluetooth module
  Built-in 2 MegaPixel built in web camera
  Built-in Finger Print Reader
  Built-in microphone
Extra 2 year pick-up/retrun to base warranty
  Deluxe notebook backpack
Input/output HDMI output
  VGA monitor output
  4-in-1 Card Reader, SD/MMC/MS/MS Pro
  3 x USB2 ports
  10/100 network
  Dialup modem

Pretty nice specs for 1600 clams. One of the reasons for the nice price is because Pioneer Computers will let you buy a laptop without an operating system, so you save a bunch of money there already. This, combined with my previous positive experiences with Pioneer Computers made it a no-brainer to go with them again. For the record I did shop it around, and even Dell could not come close to matching this price for the same specs.

This means if you've got a copy of Windows or Linux lying around you can install it. Or alternatively as I did download and install Windows 7 (it's free until March 2010).

Getting this laptop was always about giving me the opportunity to accomplish stuff on my train ride to and from work, which makes up for 2 hours of every week day. In fact now nearly all of the articles I write for Rusty Lime and my other blog are done during that train ride, as is a large portion of the actual web site development work. It's made me very productive because truthfully I don't get the chance to at home as often as I used to.


It's not too bad for gaming although it will never match my desktop for that, but being the geek I am I of course had to run a few benchmarks. Running a current generation game (Chronicles of Riddick - Dark Athena) I was surprised it ran as well as it did, being very playable with medium - high settings.

So how does it stack up against, say, a desktop machine? That's probably the only comparison I can provide given I don't have companies sending me laptops to benchmark every day. I've ran the mighty Performance Test to show you how the laptop compares to my desktop AMD Athlon 3ghz dual core machine.

Test Name My PC My Laptop
CPU - Integer Math 185.56 187.85
CPU - Floating Point Math 1062.25 711.10
CPU - Find Prime Numbers 317.37 542.81
CPU - SSE/3DNow! 3962.85 4510.83
CPU - Compression 4914.40 4302.26
CPU - Encryption 39.25 27.50
CPU - Image Rotation 848.19 906.99
CPU - String Sorting 3132.35 1976.40
Graphics 2D - Lines 55.20 16.78
Graphics 2D - Rectangles 65.73 43.34
Graphics 2D - Shapes 29.55 23.03
Graphics 2D - Fonts and Text 199.77 151.71
Graphics 2D - GUI 174.59 135.52
Graphics 3D - Simple 1975.36 509.35
Graphics 3D - Medium 437.81 131.86
Graphics 3D - Complex 42.91 38.75
Memory - Allocate Small Block 2382.44 1757.70
Memory - Read Cached 1466.54 1516.38
Memory - Read Uncached 1322.33 1457.03
Memory - Write 1219.94 1420.04
Memory - Large RAM 897.75 718.49
Disk - Sequential Read 57.39 62.68
Disk - Sequential Write 69.10 48.52
Disk - Random Seek + RW 2.90 4.77
CD - Read 2.80 4.68
CPU Mark 1204.58 1214.07
2D Graphics Mark 344.59 229.39
Memory Mark 538.88 507.88
Disk Mark 467.98 419.40
CD Mark 342.29 573.56
3D Graphics Mark 786.02 217.61
PassMark Rating 689.20 612.95

As you can see the laptop wins on many occasions by loses in the end, mainly due to the huge difference in the 3D graphics tests.

Running Windows 7

Ironically, the one word that comes to mind is the same word used during Vista's marketing campaign: Wow. Except on Vista, despite it's positives, didn't wow anyone.

Windows 7 runs like a dream. It's fast, responsive, reliable and everything Vista should have been. Win7 does have a lower minimum system requirement than Vista so it's no surprise it runs better than it's predecessors. One guy even managed to put install it on a Pentium II. If you're thinking of putting Windows 7 on your laptop, you have my recommendation.

Battery Life

As I opted for a 6 cell battery, I can only squeeze a couple of hours at best from the laptop during heavy use. That's with all the power saving options enabled as well. Though for my purposes that's more than enough battery life. If you're on the road all the time you'd do well to invest in a 9 or 12 cell battery.


In hindsight I wish I had gotten a 12 inch model instead of a 15.4 inch. As mentioned earlier portability was one of my primary goals, and I think 3 inches less would make a difference when coding on the train, as far as balancing it on your lap and not intruding onto the other passengers personal space is concerned.

Using the laptop otherwise is fine, but the finger print reader is in an unusual location, making it awkward to move your hand into position to scan a finger. If anywhere, it should have been in the upper right or left area.

The form factor is nice although nothing to write home about, and I've no complaints about the weight.


The speakers are as good as you can expect any regular laptop to be and they're no substitute for a real set of speakers. The unit itself is as quiet as a mouse even when the CPU is under load and the fan is blowing it's hardest.


Here's where things a little ugly. The unit arrived with a dead pixel which turned into a few dead pixels. Trying to get any feedback from technical support or sales regarding where I stand with a warranty claim has been problematic. Pioneer Computers have not returned my calls or responded to my email, which makes me think they're not interested in their legal obligation to honour my warranty. I even purchased an extended warranty just in case. I've been pretty patient after more than 4 weeks trying to get a response, and hopefully the email I sent today (to every email address I could find on their web site) will reach the right people.

This is quite a contrast to the positive customer experiences I've had with them over the years.

I will post an update as soon as I hear back.

Update: My warrantly claim has been approved (after initially being rejected). See my comment.



Saturday 27th June 2009 | 07:39 PM
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Looks great, most surprised by Windows 7 performance. I may even upgrade to it myself on the desktop... I'd look into the company, but I can't imagine they'd ship to the States...

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Kim OJ

Kim OJ

Saturday 27th June 2009 | 10:15 PM
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It's nice that they will actually sell you a computer without an OS.

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Sunday 28th June 2009 | 10:38 PM
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Hey Mike, nice review. I am also glad to hear that people are finally shipping OS-less laptops but the warranty issue at the end of your article kind of kills the whole Pioneer Computers thing, for me.

Let us know how it pans out. (Generally, LCD warranties don't cover one or even 10 dead pixels, btw - http://aps2.toshiba-tro.de/kb0/TSB9502LZ0000R01.htm). "Dead pixel tolerance" is a clause in warranties that generally means you need at least 15 or so dead pixels to make a claim.

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Monday 29th June 2009 | 09:44 AM

What's the build quality like? appart from the dead pixel issue, Does it feel like it will survive the extended warentee period?

Jake Farr-Wharton

Jake Farr-Wharton

Monday 29th June 2009 | 11:22 AM
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Looks like a promising lappy mate, though I've opted for a comination of a 13.2 inch to complement my samsung omnia phone/pda for mainly the same reasons as you. I needed something that I would feel comfortable using on the train/bus and have enough batery power to ensure that I didn't have to stop in the middle of a train of thought due to a low batery.

Mind you, the 13.2 in toshi's are splendid little bundles of joy... unless you want to do anything beyond the basic... but that's what you get a PC for.

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Monday 29th June 2009 | 01:40 PM
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An update on the warranty issue. After initially rejecting my claim online, I telephoned support and got through to someone who saw my predeicament.

My argument was that, because they claim to test the screens and replace them if any dead pixels are found before they ship the laptop, mine should never have arrived with a dead pixel(s). Because dead pixels don't magically appear in transit overnight, especially on a laptop that's not even switched on.

The support guy agreed and reversed the decision - they are sending someone to pick it up from me tomorrow.

He said rejecting my original warranty claim was a mistake (which probably means the recipient didn't read my message all the way through) but it's proof that sometimes you just have to make a phone call just in case.

Needless to say, my faith in Pioneer has been mostly restored.

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Jake Farr-Wharton

Jake Farr-Wharton

Tuesday 30th June 2009 | 06:14 AM
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...in response to this comment by Mikey. Good onya mate, most companies would call it your problem, which really means that the only option is to deface the screen to the point where they'll fix it.

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Tuesday 30th June 2009 | 07:40 AM
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...in response to this comment by Aaron. Build quality is solid - always has been from them.

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Joe Marco

Joe Marco

Wednesday 1st July 2009 | 02:56 PM
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Finger print reader...that is so bad ass.

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Wednesday 1st July 2009 | 03:35 PM
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...in response to this comment by Joe Marco. haha - it's one of my fav things. Saves typing in a password every time. You can use it for passwords in any application too.

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