[Review] My Little Revo HTPC… 8 Months Later

inside the revo

It has been 8 full months since I started this little adventure to build my very first Home Theater PC. It all started after going to my friend Jesse's house and seeing his Tivo. I was rather unimpressed with the UI of the Tivo, however since he seemed to love it and I loved the idea of a DVR I knew there had to be another way. I started slow and purchase 2 USB tuners from to try on my aging Dell Desktop (5.5 year old 3.0Ghz P4) and link it together with my Xbox 360 as an extender. To my surprise this actually seemed to work really well with Windows Media Center. I could watch and record live TV and stream all my content straight to my TV in another room. However like any true geek you always want more and more!  Not to mention I had an original Xbox 360 and it sounded like a jet engine.

I scoured the internet and found myself this super sexy little acer aspire revo. I was on a budget at the time so I decided to save myself $120 and buy the cheap AR1600 single core model and buy an extra GB of RAM later. After buying more and more to get the perfect setup everything was finally complete. Harmony Remote, 2 external hard drives, external dvd player, usb contraptions, and 3 TV tuners to top it off. This thing was sweet, but could it perform. After trail and error, and error, and error, and finally success I got my little Revo running perfect, and that is when I decided to launch this website to help other out who wanted to get started with a small form factor HTPC and who were on a budget.

So 8 months later where am I and how is my little Revo running? First I will say that I have not purchased any more accessories for my little revo since I launched the site which is great. I have impressed a lot of friends with the power of Windows Media Center 7 running on such a lower powered device, and some of them have even created their own small factor HTPC (revo or zotac) all thanks to me and this website. I know many other have as well and I am happy to know my hard efforts have paid off and helped people.

My Revo is still exactly what I need in my life for the time being and I don't see it being replaced any time soon. Not only does it still play Flash content flawless, but it also plays back all of my 1080p and 720p movies and TV shows. The amazing thing now is that all of this content isn't even located on my Revo, it has all been moved to a nice Windows Home Server (Vail) machine that I made for around $350 that has 3TB of storage. It all streams flawlessly across my gigabit network. I still have never had a recording fail, and every recording has been just about perfect unless there was a reception issue.

It sounds amazing right??? Well it is amazing, but just not perfect. The Revo to me seems to be very picky with drivers and codecs and installing the wrong one can bring down your machine (this is where my WHS comes in). Also with such low power under the hood HD silverlight content has not been great. I am hoping for an update in the future that will add hardware acceleration just like Flash has done, but that might be a ways off. I have canceled my Netflix account, however this has nothing to do with my Revo not performing, it just has to do with the streaming selection and that I have been flying in and out of the country a lot lately for work.

I will say one thing though that it still amazes me that I can leave the country for 3 weeks and when I come back my Revo and WMC has everything all ready for me and doesn't have any issues not being looked after. 8 months later there are many options on the market now for a lower powered HTPC and many competitors such as the Boxee box are on the horizon. My only hope now is that Acer steps it's game up just like Dell has done and make the Revo into a HTPC powerhouse at the same great price.

So when it is all said and done I love my Revo and I don't think I could live without it :) I want to thank everyone for their support and all of their excellent questions and I hope to continue this for a long time.

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  1. Thanks for putting this web site together. I made the jump and cut the cable because of your advice here and I’m sooooooooooooo glad I did. It saves me around $100 a month. Thanks

  2. In your experience and if you had it to do over again do you think you would “spring” for a dual core revo rather than the single core revo?

  3. Yeah I probably would have to be honest. At the time it was worth saving the money. I have no issues at all with the Single core, but it is always nice to have a bit better hardware.

  4. Motz – Because of hearing you on a Podcast around the time you did your Revo experiment. I went ahead and made a purchase too. The Revo was used to replace my (noise) Xbox 360 in the bedroom. After 7 months I have made some changes to my Revo which I think makes it run even better. First I have the Revo AR3610. Like you, I added 2 more GB of Ram to make the total 4GB. I found the performance good but felt that Media Center was a little sluggish (in my opinion – probably because my main Media Center PC is an Intel dual core). I then re-installed Windows 7 Home Premium hoping that a clean install without all the Acer garbage would help the performance. Of course it did but I was still not happy with it. My last change made all the difference in the world and made me love the Revo. Since I have a WHS V1 and HD Home Runs running, I was not too worried about local storage. My only goal was to get the best performance I could get. So I added a Kingston 64GB SSD. WOW – Finally my Revo is performing like a champ! The SSD makes all the difference (I have since added SSD’s to all my Windows Media Center PC’s). The down side to this project is that I now have $600 invested into my Revo but it is well worth it for the form factor size and silence! The only issue I have today is with Netflix. Netflix seems to stream fine in Windows Media Center as long as the movie is in standard definition. It seems that I cannot watch any of the HD titles through Netflix in Windows Media Center. After some troubleshooting, I found that dropping out to the desktop and viewing the same movie from Internet Explorer works fine. Not sure why, but it must have something to do with the Netflix plug in for Windows Media Center. Since I use the Gyration In-Air Remotes on all my Windows Media Centers. Dropping out of Windows Media Center and using the Internet Explorer is easy because of the remotes built in mouse feature. Anyway thanks for the great site I love my Revo!

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