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Pioneer DreamBook Light IL1

Pioneer DreamBook Light IL1

A notebook that can't compete

Since the runaway success of the Asus Eee PC 701 4G, notebook makers have been tripping over themselves trying to cash-in on the popularity of ultraportable laptops. Devices such as the MSI Wind U100 and the latest Asus Eee PC 901 combine surprisingly good performance with cheap prices and portability to be hot items.

Enter the Pioneer DreamBook Light IL1 — a unit that lacks the processing power, usability and price value of all the aforementioned devices.

One of the few saving graces of this laptop is its battery's staying power. In our battery rundown test, where we loop a movie with the sound on, the IL1 lasted a phenomenal 6hr 40min.

From the outside, the IL1 looked promising. Compact and light, the notebook has a sleek black chassis. The device weighs in at a mere 1.2kg without the power supply and 1.5kg with it included.

As we lifted the panel, however, things started drifting downhill. The 7in screen features an unusually large bezel for such as small device and the built-in graphics processor does not support the native resolution of 1024x768, making the display look stretched. This greatly diminishes the usability of the device in general and is a basic point that should've been corrected before release.

As for usability, we found it difficult to type documents with the small keyboard, which is almost identical in size to that of the Eee PC's. The touchpad was too small to use comfortably.

On the inside, the DreamBook is run by a 1GHz VIA C7-M processor and 1GB of RAM. Although this is fine for browsing the Web or running one simple program at a time, users will find that anything more hardware-intensive, such as image manipulation, will take excessive amounts of time.

In our iTunes benchmarking, where we convert 53min of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3s, the IL1 completed the task in 22min 38sec. Our Blender 3D rendering tests were completed in 21min 42sec. These results reflect the weak CPU; of course, if you're looking for a high-powered device you'll probably need to look at an entirely different category of computers.

As for users hoping to play games, the integrated graphics provided by the VIA VX800U chipset will quickly destroy your dreams, with 3DMark06 refusing to run a single test on this device.

Storage is provided by a 40GB hard drive that spins at 4200rpm. The hard drive's read/write speed is not very quick, but its storage capacity should be enough for most casual users.

In terms of expandability options, the Pioneer is adequately covered. On the left side of the device is a VGA port, along with a headphone port and microphone port. The front of the device features a 3-in-1 card reader (SD, MMC, MS) while users will find two USB 2.0 ports, a 10/100 Ethernet port and a 56Kbps modem on the right-hand side. It also has built-in 802.11 b/g connectivity for wireless network access.


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