Review: Acer Revo One (RL85)

Most people who buy computers these days end up getting a laptop or a tablet, and that makes sense because portability is king. But desktops are still making an impact in small amounts, and by combining the desktop with something small, Acer seems to have found a quirky little niche, with the return of the home theatre PC.

Features

A rather unusual entry for Acer, the Revo One is a computer that may surprise you.

Another desktop, this computer isn’t made strictly for the office or the desk, with home theatres the likely place this one land.

It’s still a computer, that said, and as such still has computer insides, with Intel’s Core i5 dual-core 5200U (“Broadwell” generation) powering this system, accompanied by 8GB RAM and as much as 2TB of storage.

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Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 is installed on the computer out of the box, and there’s even room to expand the storage using two SATA ports found on the inside of the machine, with an SD card slot found on the very top of the unit.

Connections are fairly standard, with 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth, with Gigabit Ethernet providing wired networking if you need it, too.

A lone HDMI connection is offered, as is a single Mini DisplayPort, with four USB ports provided in the Revo One, made up of two USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0 ports.

The system arrives in a plastic chassis with an external power brick, with a wireless keyboard and mouse also included.

Acer lists various configurations for the Revo One, including a Celeron variant with only 2GB RAM and 60GB solid-state storage, a Core i3 model with 4GB RAM and 1TB hard-drive based storage, and the model we’re reviewing, which includes a Core i5, 8GB RAM, and a 2TB conventional hard drive.

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Performance

There was a time when the home theatre PC was the next stage of the computing world. People saw it as a place the desktop could evolve to, because you would watch all of your content on your big TV, and not your small monitor, so why not have a computer there too?

But the idea was a little short lived, especially as modern consoles rocked up with enough processing power and internet-friendly smarts, logging onto the world wide web and streaming media from catch-up TV services, YouTube, and even USB drives that you plugged into the consoles or possibly a drive on your home network.

With the most recent gaming consoles, though, much of this delivery mechanism has gone away, and while we have a way of getting onto the world wide web with practically every device in your home, for many, the idea of a PC that can playback movies, handle your music, share your photos, tackle video games, and let you surf the web on a huge screen is enticing.

For Acer, that idea is happening in the form of a computer made for the TV room called the “Revo One”. It’s a cute little machine, and one that doesn’t take on the look of a typical desktop, resembling more that of a NAS drive, except with the guts of a computer inside.

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From the outside, it’s all white glossy plastic, with the Acer logo showing itself clearly on the bottom, a bunch of ports on the back, and a locking switch along the back bottom that can let you open the computer up.

Press that switch hard and the computer will open as you remove the top casing from the body itself.

Inside, what you won’t see is the small computer encased behind plastic and an SD card slot up top, flanked on each side by a hard drive expansion slot, providing a level of upgradeability for people who want to add more storage than what’s being provided.

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Living in this section, however, is the guts, with Intel’s dual-core Core i5 variant of a fifth-generation processor, 8GB RAM, and a 2TB hard drive. Just as a note, with 2TB on the inside and two hard drive bays on the outside, there’s a reasonable amount of flexibility in terms of upgrading things.

Beyond this, the real guts of the computer sits inside the plastic, but you’ll probably never get to see it unless you arm yourself with a screwdriver and a reason to look.

And really, there’s no reason to do that, because you’ll only find the processor, the maximum memory the machine can support (8GB), and another hard drive.

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It’s better to focus on the hard drive slots on either side, knowing full well you can upgrade them when you want to, simply by removing the plastic latch and light metal hard drive casings, installing a 2.5 inch hard drive on either side and adding storage when you want to.

That’s good to know, because with 2TB on the review model, you can easily upgrade the storage simply by purchasing another drive and installing it. Easy, and something few NAS drives that sit in this footprint offer.

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