A few weeks back, my uncle’s somewhat ancient tower PC gave up the ghost… and it fell on me to find a replacement. (I’m sure most ZNF readers know how that works.) His computing needs are extremely minimal — we’re talking AOL email and web browsing (via broadband, at least). So I figured he’d be a perfect candidate for an inexpensive and lightweight nettop. Enter the Acer Aspire Revo.
Amazon shipped the Revo (R1600-U910H, $199) directly to me so I could clean up the requisite crapware and load up his software staples – plus Windows Security Essentials. And since I had a PC with HDMI out in my possession, I went ahead and hooked it up to the plasma for a quick spin.
I didn’t get too crazy, as I wanted to reship the Acer in a timely fashion, and merely tested web-based Hulu and Netflix streaming on the ION-powered Revo running XP. First off, the nettop is unsurprisingly underpowered. But I did wonder what 1GB of memory and the Flash 10.1 release candidate might be able to do with Hulu. Let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty. In a window, Hulu’s SD content was mostly watchable. At full screen, forget it. The Silverlight-powered Netflix, by comparison, performed like a champ. Higher res, but still SD, content streamed quite nicely in full screen.
I wouldn’t recommend this particular Acer SKU to anyone considering a HTPC. However, with just a bit more power and/or memory, a small form factor PC like this could get the job done on a reasonable budget. And, I assume, for many it does. Even if you don’t go the full-on HTPC route with television/DVR capabilities, a relatively open platform running something like Boxee or Kylo could be quite compelling.
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