Nettops haven't seen the same level of publicity heaped upon netbooks. This is largely due to the fact that, when stripped down, most nettops literally are netbooks in disguise. Only dual-core Atom processors have really provided any meaningful differentiation between the two, but what we and others have been holding out for was nVidia's much vaunted ION platform. And now we have what we wanted in the form of the first ION powered nettop, the Acer Aspire Revo.
Acer has clearly put a lot of thought into the Revo. This is evident from the rather fetching and intelligently designed chassis. Finished in glossy blue and white, its angular lines and sandcrawler-like shape lends the Revo a funky but not overly ostentatious appearance that's very fitting. Little touches, like the smart corner mounted power button, only add to the overwhelmingly positive impression.
That's not to say the Revo isn't without one or two chinks. Take the provided plastic stand, for example, which leaves the unit woefully unstable - see the video for a better idea of what we mean. Thankfully, Acer also provides a VESA mounting kit with all Revos, so you can attach the unit to the back of a TV or monitor. Given it measures just 180mm square and weighs just 750 grams, the Revo is ideally suited to such a situation. Moreover, as you can see from the diagram below, the connections are arranged in such a way to enhance this configuration.
Speaking of which, there's no shortage of options on the Revo. Starting at the front there's an eSATA port, headphone and microphone jacks, and a memory card reader. Then on the corner and at the top there are two USB ports. There are a further four USB ports on the back and these are joined by an Ethernet port, HDMI, VGA and the power input. There's also a lock slot should you need it.
In the box, meanwhile, you get a wired keyboard and mouse - though regrettably our engineering sample didn't come with these, so we're unable to tell you much about them. If you purchase the top of the range model you also get the heavily publicised Wii Remote style controller, though this strikes us as more gimmicky than useful given the system's limited gaming credentials.
Thus we'd recommend you opt for the model we're reviewing, the R3600. This is already retailing for as little as £244.99 online and while there's a stripped down Linux version, the 3600L, that's available for £162.75, it has just 1GB of RAM and only 8GB solid state storage, making it a very basic offering.