capsule review

Acer Aspire Revo RL100-UR20P: Svelte Media Machine

At a Glance
  • Acer Aspire Revo RL100-UR20P

    PCWorld Rating

    This desktop home-theater PC isn't a multimedia powerhouse, but it looks sexy and plays videos well.

If you're looking for a small, sexy home-theater PC that's good at playing video of all kinds--but doesn't distinguish itself at anything else--check out the Acer Aspire Revo RL100-UR20P. This model is superslim at 1 inch thick, and it has a futuristic pop-out keyboard/touchpad to handle all of your home-theater needs.

The Revo RL100-UR20P has some impressive specs for a compact $570 machine: 750GB of hard drive space, 4GB of RAM, and a Blu-ray disc player. It also has a less-compelling dual-core AMD Athlon II Neo K325 processor, which is a laptop part. But you get everything else you could want in a home-theater PC: Wi-Fi 802.11n, gigabit ethernet, and a multiformat card reader. The Revo RL100-UR20P runs a 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium.

Because this PC relies on a laptop processor and integrated Nvidia Ion graphics, its performance isn't a strong point. On PCWorld's World Bench 6 benchmark test suite, the Revo RL100-UR20P compiled a score of 59--not great, but not awful. After all, our top-rated compact desktop, the Dell Inspiron Zino HD 410, scored a 78; and our fourth-ranked compact desktop, the Giada A50 Fusion Ultra PC, earned a 55.

The Revo RL100-UR20P's graphics performance on our gaming tests was less than stellar, too. In our Unreal Tournament 3 tests, the system managed an unplayable frame rate of 16.6 frames per second (at medium quality settings, and 1024 by 768 pixel resolution). On the other hand, it played Blu-ray discs and streamed 1080p high-definition video without a hitch.

The Revo RL100-UR20P's design is eye-catching, to say the least. The sleek case is made of smooth black plastic with shiny rose-gold accents. You can orient the Revo vertically or horizontally. The case is less than 1 inch thick, and it measures 12 inches long (or tall, depending on the orientation) by 7 inches across.

The front of the Revo houses the Blu-ray disc drive, a USB port, the multiformat card reader, and a volume wheel attached to the pop-out keyboard/touchpad. On the back are two more USB ports, headphone and microphone jacks, S/PDIF optical audio-out, HDMI-out, and the gigabit ethernet port.

The pop-out keyboard/touchpad--the coolest part of the entire machine--lies directly below the Blu-ray disc player. To pop it out, you simply slide a small switch on the side of the machine (alternatively, you can grab the slate and pull). The default mode for the matte-black slate is the touchpad: It functions just like a trackpad, except that it isn't attached to anything. The trackpad functionality is reasonably good, though not as smooth as I like; it supports multitouch gestures such as two-finger scrolling and pinch-to-zoom. Because there are no physical mouse buttons, you have to tap to click.

To switch over to keyboard mode, you tap a small physical button in the upper-right corner; while you're in trackpad mode, the button is lit up a bright blue. The keyboard is a bit overwhelming at first, due to the multitude of buttons and their unusual layout. Moving from bottom to top, you'll find a full QWERTY keyboard, a line of punctuation keys, a line of number keys, and then two lines of media playback buttons. In lieu of volume buttons, you get a rose-gold volume wheel on the upper left corner. The keyboard is responsive, but its weird layout makes it touch-typing difficult.

The Revo RL100-UR20P will look perfectly at home in your living room. Though it's no multimedia powerhouse, it plays videos very well. To improve its performance, Acer includes built-in Dolby Home Theater V2 Audio Enhancement, and its own Clear-Fi multimedia suite. The pop-out keyboard/touchpad is cool, though admittedly not as useful as a regular keyboard and mouse.

If you're looking for the perfect compact home-theater PC, this is it. But anyone looking for a number cruncher or a gaming station should probably look elsewhere.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    This desktop home-theater PC isn't a multimedia powerhouse, but it looks sexy and plays videos well.

    Pros

    • Impressive slide-out keyboard/touchpad
    • Spacious hard drive

    Cons

    • Notebook hardware limits performance potential
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