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We've been seeing quite a selection of remarkable small desktop systems recently, aimed mostly at the Home Theatre PC (HTPC) crowd. The requirements for these are compact dimensions, stylish looks, and the ability to play back Full HD video, with Blu-ray being high on our 'want' list. The impressive and passively-cooled Tranquil PC ixL was too expensive and lacked Blu-ray, while the Zotac ZBOX looked stylishly futuristic and was incredibly slim, but suffered from inferior build quality and a distractingly audible fan. Up to this point then, the ASRock Core 100HT-BD is still our top choice but now we have an entrant that might blow even this machine out of the water: Acer's Aspire Revo RL100 3D.
For those who are thinking of the company's older Revo, this is a completely different, far superior machine. It's not only significantly more powerful, but also more stylish, comes with an integrated Blu-ray drive, is 3D capable and features what is one of the most awesome HTPC remotes we have ever seen.
Mind you, the PC itself is already quite a talking point. At 25x180x300mm (WxDxH), it's the slimmest full-blooded HTPC we've seen, and easily rivals the Zbox for sleek looks – though what it most reminds us of is a slimline Playstation 2. Its semi-matte black finish is subtly attractive and the glossy bronze highlights only add to its classy aesthetic. Another advantage is that this finish is far easier to maintain than the all-gloss efforts of many rivals.
Though you can certainly use it in its landscape orientation, this Revo has really been designed to be shown off upright. Acer includes a stand that simply slots into a groove in the machine. As the stand's neck is narrow and positioned at the rear, this gives the impression that the chassis is floating. Overall then, it's a great piece of design and will certainly fit in neatly with most AV setups (assuming you go for the horizontal orientation - Ed).
Though its chassis is constructed entirely of plastic, the Revo 100 feels solid and is definitely one of the better-built slim PCs around. The base, which simply slots into the main unit, is reinforced and weighted with metal. Unfortunately its connection to the main unit is also the one exception to the otherwise superb build, as it evinces some wobble.