Pioneer DreamBook Slim 400AE

The Pioneer 400AE packs in a lot of muscle for its sub-$2000 price, however, you are going to need a bit of muscle to carry it. Weighing in at a hefty 3.6kgs, the 400AE will provide a good supplement to that expensive gym pass you rarely use.

The 100GB of storage space and an ATI Radeon X700 256MB PCI Express card place this notebook well towards the upper echelon of the performance market, delivering a score of 10507 in 3DMark 2001SE). Using the Intel 915PM Sonoma chipset with an Intel Pentium M 2.13GHz CPU, it scored 95 in WorldBench 5, proving itself as a solid all rounder.

All of the port locations are well placed with two USB ports on the left-hand side along (another two at the back) with a VGA and S-Video for outputting to another monitor. On the front are the sound card ports which make them easily accessible, however, having your headphone jack sticking out the front can be mildly annoying when it is resting on your lap. On the right hand side is the DVD burner, Type II PMCIA slot and a 3-in-1 media card reader that supports MS, SD and MMC. Pioneer has made navigation easier with a reasonably large 7x5cm mouse pad area that is very responsive. It has also added multimedia keys and a third four-point mouse button (similar to a D-pad) that allows faster navigation to key points of your screen or applications.

The major gripe users will find with the 400AE lies with the display. A 15in SXGA display with its 4:3 aspect ratio, disappointing colour and viewing range. This is a major drawback despite its powerful performance for its price.

Verdict: A very strong performing notebook at a great price, however the display is not spectacular and this should be considered before buying.

Specifications: Intel Pentium M 2.13GHz; Intel 915PM Sonoma chipset; 512MB DDR 2 RAM; 15in SXGA display; ATI Radeon X700 256MB PCI Express Graphics; 100GB hard disk; 802.11g Wi-Fi; 4 x USB 2.0; infrared; 10/100/100 Ethernet; 3-in-1 media reader MS/SD/MMC; Bluetooth; 3.6 kg. URL: www.pioneercomputers.com.au