Looking at performance, AMD’s 1.3GHz Athlon II Neo K325 has a healthy lead over the 1.8GHz Atom found in the Zotac ZBOX and even holds its own compared to Intel’s full-fat 2.13GHz Core i3, as found in the ASRock Core 100HT-BD. Crucially, unlike the Atom it will let you play back Full HD video without the assistance of its dedicated graphics, which might be handy if using obscure media players that don’t support graphics accelerated playback.
However, while Nvidia’s ION will serve for daily tasks, you’d best keep 3D gaming very light indeed, as even at 1,366 x 768 the Revo only achieved a 15.6 frames per second average in TrackMania Nations Forever.
Despite having no unsightly cooling vents (there’s only one modest grille around the back), the Revo never gets particularly hot in use. As long as you’re not using its optical drive it’s also virtually silent, with the loudest noise it produces being the clicking of its mechanical hard drive.
On the software front Acer keeps things minimal, with a pointless if rather slick touch-optimized browser (which is probably a remnant from the company’s touch-capable machines), clear.fi (which facilitates easy-as-pie media sharing between network-connected Acer devices) and a media player that can handle 3D.
So far then, we have a very attractive, slim, well-built machine with adequate specifications to cope with everything in its intended market. However, it doesn’t exactly come cheap, currently demanding just a penny short of £500. For less than half of that money you could get a networked 3D Blu-ray player with media playback, such as the Award-winning Sony BDP-s570.
So why bother with the Revo 100? Well, for one there’s its extra flexibility due to it being a proper PC. At the very least it leaves you secure in the knowledge that there isn’t a single video or audio format, no matter how obscure, that it won’t play. Moreover, there are all the other things you can do with any desktop computer on both the productivity and gaming fronts, which considering the brilliance of the remote will be more useful than on many alternative media centre PCs.
As to PC alternatives, the Zbox will set you back £399 without an OS, TV tuner, 3D video capabilities or remote. And although it does offer USB 3.0, multiple digital video outputs and is slightly smaller, in almost every other regard it’s an inferior machine. Overall then, we would definitely say the Revo is our preferred choice if you can afford the extra.
A more threatening opponent is the THX-certified ASRock Core 100HT-BD. If you need more power than the Revo RL100 can supply, it’s a good option with its faster CPU and double the memory. But you’ll still need to buy and install Windows separately and it won’t play 3D Blu-rays, nor do you get a remote that’s even remotely (sorry) as awesome. We already have its successor, the ASRock Vision 3D, on our test bench, but until then Acer’s HTPC wins out again.
Though it’s not on the cutting edge of connectivity, in every other regard the Acer Revo 100 is our favourite HTPC. It’s slim, stylish, quiet, well-built, can handle most tasks effortlessly and has the coolest bundled remote you’re likely to see this year, all of which makes its high price sound like decent value.