Acer’s original Revo was an attractively styled home theatre PC that delivered media centre facilities through nVidia’s Ion technology. It combined Intel’s low power and speed-starved Atom processor with a graphics friendly nVidia GeForce 9400M. Now we have the RL100, a more modern and sophisticated version that adds 3D Blu-ray playback to the mix.
This Acer Revo RL100 is a thing of beauty, with its ultra slim dimensions and chic black casing allowing it the apparent contradiction of blending in while still catching the eye.
You can site the Acer Revo RL100 horizontally on a table, or fit the compact but stable base and stand it upright. To save room (or just savour its clean looks), the stand is a great option. The base measures just 62x194mm, and emphasises the incredibly slim 25mm width. The machine is incredibly quiet, and only when put through its toughest paces could we detect any noise from it.
The Acer Revo RL100 now takes Ion version two. In place of the Intel Atom is a 1.3GHz AMD Athlon II Neo K325. In desktop terms, this still isn’t very powerful, but it is at the upper limit of performance for a netbook. A WorldBench score of 58 is adequate, and will allow the Acer to perform straightforward office tasks and web surfing without difficulty.
Games will also be a little tricky. The nVidia Ion 2 graphics chip comes with 512MB dedicated DDR3 memory, making it one of the stronger Ion 2 configurations, but again, not particularly advanced in desktop PC terms.
Advanced arcade titles are all too much. Our Stalker: Call of Pripyat tests (at 1280x720, and ‘Medium’ detail) produced a framerate of just 13.8fps. Pripyat is reasonably demanding test, but even so, we’d need these figures to be better if we were to use the Acer for gaming.
But crucially, this level of graphics processing is enough for HD video. Indeed, not only can the Acer handle standard Blu-ray, it can also manage the 3D version. While playback isn’t on a par with a dedicated 3D Blu-ray player, like the sub-£200 Sony BDP-S570, it is reasonably smooth and accurate, and will act as decent film playback alternative to a PlayStation 3.
The PS3 will be a far superior gaming console, of course, while the RL100 will be a better choice for those who also need PC applications.
Plenty of storage is provided. While the original Revo had a 160GB unit, the RL100 stretches to a capacious 500GB, split into two 250GB partitions. The 2GB of DDR3 RAM remains unaltered, as does the wireless connectivity, the Ralink adapter goes up to 802.11n.
An HDMI port is offered to connect a screen, and a TV tuner is built in, although aerials have to be plugged in using a rather insubstantial adaptor. There are no built-in speakers, although the S/PDIF (and HDMI) offer options for digital audio output. You also get the usual headphone socket. Other ports and connectors include gigabit ethernet and a convenient front-mounted memory card slot.
Three USB ports are included on the Acer Revo RL100, one of these hidden away behind a plastic door on the front. Whether or not this is a sufficient number of USB connectors will probably depend on whether you also feel the need to connect a keyboard and mouse.
And that’ll depend on what you make of what’s possibly the Revo’s most mouthwatering feature, its remote control. This ravishing piece of plastic pops straight out of the casing, leaving a slightly ugly gap behind. Given the general attention to looks, it’s surprising that Acer didn’t think to add a flap that could cover the space vacated by the remote. It recharges while it’s in the Revo, or you can connect it to a USB port with the supplied cable.
Push the power button to switch on, and tap again to move between mouse and keyboard mode. Mouse mode gives you a smooth and spacious surface on which to run your finger and control the mouse pointer. This is fairly responsive, and works better than some laptop trackpads.
The keyboard lets you type with reasonable accuracy, and you can execute a number of Windows functions or go straight to Acer’s clear.fi system, a nicely intuitive application that allows you to access all videos, pictures and music from one central location.
We do wish a part of the remote could have been reserved for mouse functions, it only takes a second to move to mouse mode, but the extra convenience would have been appreciated. In general, though, it works incredibly well.
The Acer Revo RL100 is a quiet and highly attractive media centre PC that will fit nicely into any living room. However, it does lack a little power, particularly when it comes to games, and its price tag is high. Even given the 3D facilities, this needs to cost at least £100 less for it to start becoming a genuinely tempting deal.