Acer AspireRevo Review

acer aspirerevo review

Acer AspireRevo

“The AspireRevo R3610 makes an affordable and reasonably powerful centerpiece for your home theater.”
  • Compact design makes it easy to place anywhere
  • Nvidia Ion makes the difference for video playback
  • Easily connected to HDTV using HDMI output
  • Plenty of ports and connections
  • Windows 7 runs smoothly
  • Windows 7 Media Center makes it easier for DVR-functionality
  • Can be mounted on the back of a monitor
  • Excellent value
  • Atom processor shows strain when multiple apps are open
  • Gaming is a non-starter under these specs
  • Too much pre-installed bloatware
  • Lacks a built-in TV tuner
  • No optical drive
MSRP $348.00

Introduction

There’s something to be said about a “desktop PC” small enough to fit in a drawer, yet brawny enough to power a whole entertainment system. Acer’s AspireRevo R3610 nettop PC fits just that role. Hovering around $400 certainly doesn’t hurt its cause, either, except the price may be too good to be true if you’re looking to make this your primary PC.

Specs

Our AspireRevo R3610-E9012 review unit came equipped with an Intel Atom 330 processor running at 1.6GHz, 4GB of DDR2 RAM, a 500GB hard drive, Nvidia’s Ion integrated video card, and Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit for the operating system.

Design

The Revo R3610 has a nice fit and finish to it, and is definitely small enough to fit on any desk, or nestled in somewhere close to an HDTV for use as a media center. It has a stand that snaps in the bottom for elevation and better air flow, which also kind of makes it look like a small gaming console – it’s too bad that gaming is a non-starter with this thing. The peripherals aren’t the snazziest out there, but they don’t come off as overly cheap, either.

Ports and Connections

Despite its smaller frame, the Revo R3610 is packed with a slew of ports and connections. You get two USB ports in the front, plus another four in the back. There’s a high-speed eSATA port on the front panel, just below the headphone and microphone jacks. Above that is the memory card reader that handles SD, Memory Stick, MultiMediaCard and xD formats. On the back is a gigabit Ethernet port, HDMI output and VGA port. Last but not least, you get a S/PDIF coaxial output for supporting 7.1-channel surround sound. As you might expect on something this compact, there’s no optical drive.

Connecting to the Internet wirelessly is made easy with the support for 802.11n/g/b Wi-Fi, though it lacks Bluetooth for connecting peripherals, which would have been a nice feature for a wireless keyboard or mouse. A built-in TV tuner would’ve been nice too, but in order to turn the Revo R3610 into a DVR, you’ll need to use a USB capture device. The good news is that USB ports aren’t slim pickings, and Windows Media Center comes pre-installed, so the setup is primarily on the hardware side.

Accessories

The included keyboard and mouse are naturally both wireless, and run on AAA batteries. You just need to plug in the included USB module to connect them to the Revo R3610. The mouse has decent tracking, but we found that replacing it with something like Microsoft’s Bluetrack mouse made it much easier to use on any surface around us, including the magnifier to navigate and surf the Web from a distance. Aside from that, the only other accessory to note is a bracket that you can use to mount the Revo R3610 onto the back of a monitor, thereby creating a modified all-in-one desktop.

Software

We would’ve preferred that Acer had gone easy with the amount of bloatware pre-installed on the machine. Between the Microsoft Office 2007 trial, Nero 9 Essentials, MyWinLocker and the always fun McAfee Internet Security Suite trial, there were plenty of unwanted items taking up memory. Throw in outdated Flash-based games from the Oberon GameZone, along with Acer Arcade Deluxe, and you have a host of stuff you will probably never use.

Windows 7 Home Premium runs really smoothly on the Revo R3610, and as mentioned earlier, the presence of Windows 7 Media Center is great if you’re looking for DVR-functionality. If you have other Windows 7 PCs in the home network, you can always connect them directly to the Revo using the HomeGroup feature.

We also found that free streaming software like Orb and TVersity were great additions for capturing content. We even installed the Boxee beta to see how that functioned, and were pleasantly surprised.

Performance

The Revo R3610’s Atom processor would fry if it had to do the heavy lifting in playing high-definition content or even streaming standard-def across the home network. We’re pleased to report that the Nvidia Ion integrated graphics chip comes to the rescue and turns what would otherwise be a desktop netbook, into a solid PC with plenty of upside as a media center. Hooking up the Revo to an HDTV via an HDMI cable is a must, if you’re to truly get the most out of it.

While you’re unlikely to be able to play 10GB Blu-ray rips, you can play smaller 1080p clips. HD content in 720p fares much better, and viewing high-quality video on sites like YouTube and Vimeo was easy as pie. We found, however, that it’s best to update the Revo R3610’s Flash player, since older versions may give you choppy playback.

Streaming video from Hulu, even at higher quality, was pretty seamless, though we found that having other applications open at the same time didn’t help the cause. In fact, just surfing the Web and having two other apps open slows things down, which was a clear indication of the Atom processor’s limitations.

Speaking of which, gaming is simply not an option with this machine. You would be lucky to get anything above 15 frames per second on the average modern game at the lowest settings. If you want to frag people or build empires, you’ll need to look for something with more juice under the hood.

Conclusion

If you’re one to entertain yourself a lot on the Web and through your own media collection, then the Revo R3610 makes a compelling case to be part of your living room setup. It takes up little space, runs smoothly, quietly, and doesn’t require much maintenance.

That fits nicely with its true value proposition, which is media playback and Web surfing on a big TV or monitor with all the on-demand content the Internet can give you. But as a standalone PC, the Revo R3610 isn’t a huge step up from an entry-level desktop PC. Its specs and performance actually pale in comparison to all-in-one PCs that can be found for just over double the price.

In other words, if you don’t see yourself plugging this baby into a big screen of some kind, then we urge you to consider other options for your computing needs. But if you do, then you might want to give this a chance.

Highs:

  • Compact design makes it easy to place anywhere
  • Nvidia Ion makes the difference for video playback
  • Easily connected to HDTV using HDMI output
  • Plenty of ports and connections
  • Windows 7 runs smoothly
  • Windows 7 Media Center makes it easier for DVR-functionality
  • Can be mounted on the back of a monitor
  • Excellent value

Lows:

  • Atom processor shows strain when multiple apps are open
  • Gaming is a non-starter under these specs
  • Too much pre-installed bloatware
  • Lacks a built-in TV tuner
  • No optical drive

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