back to article Acer Aspire Revo R3600

The Aspire Revo is Acer’s take on Nvidia’s Ion platform so that’s a good place to start with this review. Acer's Aspire Revo: Atom and Ion on board Ion started life as the GeForce 9300, which is a chipset that connects Intel's Core 2 processors to decent integrated graphics. In our comparison of desktop chipsets with …

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Pirate

Is it really THAT hard to come up with product names?

Come on guys, put a little more effort in to naming your products.

First Netbooks and no Revos - put the 1999 Psion brochure down and step away from the desk!

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The real reason for this

Can't believe you could review such a device without even mentioning DIVX.

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WTF?

Disapointing

I find it a bit disappointing that ElReg don't have a Bluray drive kicking around to test Bluray playback. I mean you can pick up one of those LiteOn Bluray drives now cheap enough now, or even an internal Bluray BD-ROM and stick it in a USB case.

Come on guys I'm sure one of you could ask Lite On for a review drive or something?

Rob

P.S. Love these new icons :-)

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Bronze badge

Needs

Small SSD (£100) (or a no HDD option - netboot?)

DVI

HDMI

and I'll take two...

Nice pieces of kit, pity about the weird port layout, but I'll get over it.

OTOH if they supply mini keyboards I'll take one of those - why does noone make small keyboards for kids? With USB you can easily have a couple of keyboards plugged in to the family computer..

Teach them how to touch type nice and young - more important than writing nowadays, but their hands are too small to do so on a full sized keyboard.

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Perfect Media PC

I have one of these, fixed using the supplied Vesa cradle and a couple of screws, behind a cabinet, plugged into the big LCD screen using HDMI, and with the addition of a Vista Media Center remote - it's absolutely perfect for the job as a Media PC.

Movies stream from a NAS box via Homeplug AV (even wireless n isn't up to the job of streaming video - tried different combinations of wireless n routers and bridges - all suffer from stutters even within line of sight.)

No need for the keyboard and mouse at all after the initial set up - they can disappear behind the TV cabinet.

Job done.

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Happy

I bought one of these...

... and I was pleasantly surprised by how well Vista ran on it, given I'm a Mac/Linux person normally and it was my first experience of Vista. Maybe my expectations for Vista were just very low. Or maybe removing the bundled McAfee antivirus made a huge difference to the performance. That's what it seemed to me anyway. :-D

However in the end I still put Ubuntu on it, and XBMC. It's now under my TV being a very nice media centre. (Only the Linux version of XBMC currently has hardware decoding for NVidia.) Not quite glitch-free yet though; needed a fair bit of settings-tweaking and I still get the odd skipped frame playing back BBC HD content. But I think it's going to get there soon.

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Re: 8Gb Linux SSD model

Acer have confirmed that the 8Gb SSD Linux model is due to be updated almost immediately- the initial launch is solely to use up stocks of the 8Gb SSDs. It is reported that the Linux model will be updated to a 160Gb HDD model. The other big plus- the Linux is Ubuntu 9.04! I'm going to wait a bit- and try to get a 160Gb Linux one in a few weeks time.

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FAIL

skewed ratings?

it's bizarre that this gets a 75%, when a few months ago you gave a similar sized pc with a 200Mhz processor and 128Mb RAM the same score:

http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2009/05/12/review_desktop_pc_linutop_2/

At least you can do something with this.

however, for a small pc, the 'fit-pc2' looks the most promising:

http://fit-pc2.com/ - smaller (but fatter) than a cd jewl case, 6W power draw, apparently HD capable and coming in at around £200... might pick one up soon

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Silver badge

Geode / Celeron M

"The combination of Atom and D945G has been responsible for the creation of the market for 'nettop' desktop PCs that offer basic services such as e-mail and browsing the web at a low price."

Small cheap computers started with the XO-1, which used an AMD Geode. Eee (Is she still on the beach?) was an underclocked Celeron M. Acer Aspire 1 (Atom) was about 6 months later. The Atom was responsible for small cheap computers passing the size and price of a cheap laptop, but without the performance.

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Alert

How Ubuntu runs and why no external BD and VESA

Good to see a review of this, but there were a couple of things...

It'd be good to know Ubuntu ran on the £150 version, I'd imagine that most Reg readers would buy that one, as you suggest. It'd be good to know if it is still sluggish with Linux.

Also, I didn't understand why using a external BD drive would mean you couldn't put it on the back of your monitor. I'd have thought having it on your monitor with an external drive would work well, as the drive could sit on the shelf and poke out under the TV.

It'd be nice if it had component video out, though I realise I'm the last person on the planet to get a flat telly.

I was waiting for the Linux one to come out with a HDD, any ideas if a dual core version is on the roadmap? I guess it wouldn't be £150 though.

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Anonymous Coward

mini-itx alternative

The Zotac itx-ion-a gives you a few more ports and a dual core Atom. Price is similar once you include the case, memory and drive, plus you could include the BD drive internally. Apparently they overclock by ~20% with ~0.5W increase in power draw too.

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Missing the point a bit, I think

"Buying the drive raises the cost of the £250 Revo by 25 per cent and also puts paid to the idea of mounting the Revo on the back of your TFT display using the optional VESA mounting kit."

Don't see why, unless you've got a humungous display or the drive ships with the shortest USB cable on the planet. Mount the Revo on the back of the display as before, trail the USB cable down to the desktop, attach to back of drive, job done.

"The problem is that those are mostly theoretical advantages as the Revo doesn’t have an optical drive so it's tricky to watch movies or install games, unless you use a web-based service such as Steam, and it doesn’t have a DVI connector so its value as a desktop PC is severely reduced."

Indeed, but I very *very* strongly suspect the whole point of the Revo is that it gets added to an existing home network to allow the playing of media files/spot of gaming/web browsing on the LCD/plasma in the living room, rather than being pressed into service as someone's primary desktop machine. And if, therefore, the average Revo owner also has another machine sat on their network, chances are reasonably high that this machine will have an optical drive which the Revo could then share as and when needed. Alternatively, as others have mentioned, do away with the need for optical drives by storing your movies as network-accessible files - getting up to change DVDs is *so* last century, don't you think?

"Nvidia’s Ion platform makes perfect sense here, but Atom, at least the single-core version, has no obvious place in a mains-powered nettop PC."

As a living-room PC, it makes quite a bit of sense to reduce the power consumption as much as possible - you wouldn't want to be switching it on and off on a regular basis, and chances are many users won't even bother putting it into standby mode, so anything which keeps the active power consumption down is a good thing given that we're constantly being urged to save power.

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Pint

no linux on the linux version!

I got one of the linux jobbies recently. At £150 it's not too shabby but with some rather annoying points.

I'm not sure if I got an OEM unit by mistake or this is a design decisions but it came with a *blank* HDD - and said as much on the box. I was hoping for the SSD version but they are all gone apparently - they may have had ubuntu on them but it looks like the HDD ones do not.

The cut down linux "revo boot" mini OS it boots to by default from the bios is cute but extremely limited in functionality. Not even a terminal. It has an "OS Install" dialogue that will only let you install windows vista that the HDD partitions have already been set up for and nothing else. Poor form Acer.

I don't have a big enough USB pen drive or an external CD/DVD drive so went down the bootable SD route to install an OS on there. I can now say that creating a bootable SD card to install any OS is not nearly as trivial as it's made out to be and you need to disable the nifty revo boot completely to be able to attempt to boot from it once you do create one.

I'm not sure if I have a broken unit yet but I can't get the ethernet connection to work at all, no link detected by the router it's attached to in either revo boot or ububut netbook remix. I'm assuming it's a driver issue with the nvidia chipset but haven't had a change to chase that up yet.

Lastly the included stand is good for a few days at most after which you will almost certainly break it, it is far too flimsy to be used permanently.

Ok, the good points: extremely cheap, good hardware specs, very quiet, all the right interfaces and the vesa mount is nice if scary (it just clips onto the face of the unit which doesn't seem very secure). I'm sure that once I have some time to sort out all the bugs and issues it will be a fantastic machine but the out of the box experience is rather poor, at least with the "linux" (blank HDD) version.

Beer because I needed a few after fighting with this thing for a few hours.

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I think I've just found my daughter's first PC...

...though I hope I can find the 8Gb SSD/Linux version for some silly price once they get down to the last few :-)

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Anonymous Coward

Asrock 330 better

I personally like the specs on the Asrock 330 better. It uses an Atom 330 dual core processor, up to 4 GB of memory and has a built in DVD or BluRay drive. It doesn't look as pretty, but the higher performance/functionality offsets that. The worst downside I have noted with it so far is that it doesn't have built in WiFi - which I would expect to be a standard feature on a nettop like this. But considering that most of the other Atom based nettops are using the Atom 2XX single cores and have no built in DVD player I would still go with the Asrock. I really don't understand why the makers of these Ion powered nettops don't seem to want to make dual core powered models.

When the Asrock becomes more widely available over here in the US I plan on getting one to replace the wifes tower - it's got plenty of power for what she uses a computer for in a nice tiny space.

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Any more word on the dual core version of this?

Months ago, Acer said there would be an Atom 330 version out by June at the latest.

Still waiting... will buy it if they get their finger out.

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Re: no linux on the linux version!

I had the same experience: I ordered (and wanted*) an 8GB SSD but got a (blank) 160GB HDD.

I am a little confused because it looks like if you order the 160GB version it will cost you more like £180, whereas I paid £150 for the 8GB version.

If you're searching around for the Linux version try model R3600L.

* I wanted an SSD for it's quietness, but the HDD *seems* quieter than the fan anyway so it may be a non-issue.

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Linux

Linux version

Same experience as the posters above - ordered the 8GB SSD, got the 160GB hard (wasn't complaining) but nothing except the RevoBoot crap on it. Once I'd figured out that you had to disable RevoBoot to let anything else boot, sticking Ubuntu Netbook Remix on it was trivial - no config except installing the Nvidia drivers.

Now happily using as a virtually silent MythTV and movie playback device in my bedroom (plus occasional browsing and games) - stops the GF moaning about noisy PCs, and it saves space and power.

It runs like a dream and was a steal at £150. There is literally NO reason I can imagine to buy the Vista version, can't see what it would add, unless you're really addicted to the Sims or other such rubbish. And it'll definitely slow your Revo down. If you're not comfortable installing Ubuntu, get a friend to do it. It'll take them 15 minutes, tops.

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Flame

Missing the point?

Single core Intel chipsetted version running in the car with XP and Centrafuse and it screams along.

Single Core Ion running XP MCE in the shop window, likewise, it tears along even on USB DVB tuners.

Now install vista and uh-oh....

I think the reveiw misses the point a little, granted the Atom isnt quick, but it does the job, well until you let vista on. What it doesnt do is spend your hard earned monety by turning all the electricity into heat and blowing it out the back. Its a full PC in pretty much every way but uses less power than most TVs do. When you have a PC sat around half asleep waiting to do recordings or as a media server this really really matters.

And how much pre-installed garbage was on the review unit?

Really thinking of ordering a few of these in

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ok, but for that verdict..

"but Atom, at least the single-core version, has no obvious place in a mains-powered nettop PC"

no?

There certainly are applications where the atom is fully adequate on a netbook and i don't see why it should not be the same on a box.

You are probably right in pointing out what will be the most obvious limitation of the device (apart from the vista preinstalled, i assume..), but could have worded it differently.

All that verdict is doing is inviting manufacturers to repeat the feature creep that killed the "netbook"/portable SCC.

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Fantastic piece of kit...

I've had one of these for a few weeks now, same £250 model as reviewed.

Quiet is an understatement - you only hear it when you turn it on and it spins the fan at full blast for a second. Then you forget it even exists. When I first got it I kept having to go and put my hand over the exhaust to check to see if the fan was still working!

Its now hidden behind my stack of DVD's, no-one knows its there and nor will my leccy bill. The two 500Gb external drives I have plugged into it draw more power than this beauty - 25W compared to the 20W the Revo draws.

Yes the mouse is dinky (its actually made by Logitech, their logo is on the bottom anyway) but it and the keyboard (probably Logitech as well I guess but not checked) work nicely and do not feel cheap and nasty as you might have expected. Who cares though as they are hidden away behind the DVD's like the unit - probably never to be used again after the initial setup...

Excellent piece of kit overall.

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Re: And how much pre-installed garbage was on the review unit?

A fair bit sadly...

About 15-20 random demo games from Oberon Media, gave one a go just to see how the box handled the game. Started by saying I had an hour of playtime of the demo to go and then promptly kicked me out after 5 minutes anyway. Box played it game very well tho even if it was just a top down shooter (Alien Shooter I think it was called) Infuriatingly you have to uninstall each of the games separately - each one taking 30 seconds or so, no global "destroy all this crap uninstall"

McAffee came preinstalled. I thought it wouldn't as the Vista setup said it was an optional install as a gift/trial from Acer or wording to that effect when you first boot it up. I chose "no thank you" and found it installed the damn thing anyway. Promptly got rid of the garbage but at least it wasn't Nortons...

Office 2007 trial, various other little bits n pieces... nothing too major. I think there was only one bit of rubbish actually from Acer themselves.

Oh and the drive is partitioned into two - split 50/50. Annoying!

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