Revo HTPC

Equipment

First off to see my setup please take a look at the About Page

Computer: To build a HTPC the first thing that you will need is a computer. Acer has put together a great nettop which I believe is perfect for a HTPC. The Acer Aspire Revo is tiny and packs a punch with the Intel Atom and Nvidia ION, which is capable of 1080p output via HDMI with full 7.1 surround sound support!

Here is a rundown of all the different types of Acer Aspire Revos there are.
As you know Acer has put out a lot of different flavors of the Acer Aspire Revo and some are now discontinued and some are still in production.

Let's begin with the one that started it all the Acer AspireRevo AR1600

This little guy packed a punch and was why I started this website.  It featured:

  • Windows XP
  • 1GB RAM
  • 1.6 Ghz Atom 230 (single core) + ION LE Grpahic

You can actually still find this on Amazon for around $200 from third party sellers.

Then came the Acer AspireRevo AR36XX and Now the AR3700. This guy is no slouch. Acer upgraded the machine to Windows 7 Home Premium, 2GB RAM and a 1.8Ghz Atom D525. You can still find it online for around $360. Also available on (Newegg.com)

However now we are on the next generation of Acer Revo's with the Acer Revo RL100-U1002 and the Acer Revo RL100-UR20P

The RL100 line brought tons of changes including design, processor, physical drives, and even a cool wireless touch keyboard and mouse. Here are their features

  • 1.3GHZ Dual Core Athlong II Processor
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 750GB Hard Drive
  • ION Graphics
  • Windows 7 Home Premium
  • DVD Player (U1002) or a Blu-ray Player (UR20P)

The Revo RL70-UR10P) goes back to the roots of the Revo line and removes the optical drive, which means it is low on price. Amazon.com has it listed at $329.99. It is a bit edgier design than other revos we have seen and it actually drops the Atom/Ion combo to replace it with an AMD/Radeon. Here is a pic:

I am actually impressed by this little guy, here are the specs:

  • 1.65Ghz AMD Dual Core processor
  • 2GB DDR3 Ram
  • 500 GB Hard drive
  • ATI Radeon HD 6300 Series
  • Windows 7 Home Premium
  • Wireless Keyboard and mouse

Extra memory: If you went with the AR1600, then I highly suggest you upgrade to 2GB RAM. There is an open slot for extra memory.  The Revo uses SO-DIMM DDR2 800 Laptop memory (NOTE: If you are purchasing the AR3610 it already comes with 2GB of ram, 2x1GB and if you want to upgrade it to 4GB you will need to purchase 2x2GB sticks and toss the included memory). For the AR1600 recommend:

If you are looking to upgrade your AR3700 then you will need some very special RAM. The 3700 uses DDR3 800MHZ Ram. This is pretty hard to find, but you can grab the RAM below from Kingston. Much thanks to MrHaydel in the forums.

TV Tuners: To watch live TV on your new HTPC you will need TV Tuners. Depending on what you want to do there are different types. First is ATSC, which is FREE over the air, this will be your local channels plus a few others, I get about 20 channels. Next is Clear QAM, which is what you receiver from your cable provider (except for premium channels). Last is Cable Card which is everything! I recommend at least 2 tuners, this will allow you to record and watch TV at the same time on different channels, or record 2 channels at the same time. Windows Media Center can handle up to 4 tuners of each type. Since the Revo has no PCI slots since it is so tiny, you will need to buy USB TV Tuners, here is what I recommend.

You could also go another route which is a network attached tuner. One of the best out there is the HDHomerun. It is an ATSC and QAM tuner that simply connects through Ethernet and comes in a single or dual tuner. Hard Drives: The internal 160GB of disk space is hardly enough for a HTPC. The nice thing about the Revo is that is features eSATA which allows blazing fast speeds from an external. I own 2 external drives, one is USB which I use to store movies, music, pictures, and videos. The second is a custom made eSATA drive which is dedicated to Live TV and storing recorded TV. Depending on how many movies and videos you have you might not need a USB external. I would recommend 750GB-1TB for your Live TV drive and that it be 7200 RPM for faster read/write times.

IR Remote/Harmony Remote: An essential part to the HTPC is having a remote to use so you don't have to use a mouse and keyboard all of the time. If you are lucky enough to have a Logitech Harmony remote you can simply buy an IR Receiver to use your Harmony Remote with. I suggest purchasing an official media center remote so you get all of the proper IR Commands with the receiver. If you don't have a Harmony Remote then look into buying one. Harmony remotes are an all in one universal remote which will control your TV, surround sound system, video game consoles, media center, and anything else with an IR Receiver. They are wonderful and as I would call them mom and girlfriend friendly. No more having 4 or 5 remotes sitting around, all you need is one. I have the Logitech Harmony for Xbox 360, which is nice because it has dedicated xbox 360 buttons, however any Harmony remote will work.

If you have a harmony, or just want a dedicated media center remote then I highly suggest the AVS Gear GP-IR01BK Infrared Windows MCE Remote Control or the
. It works perfect for media center and even has a dedicated On/Off (Sleep) button for the Revo. I have tried the generic "Computer IR remotes", however they do not have all of the media center buttons that you will need.

Another popular remote which many readers have recommended are the Gyration Air Remotes. These remotes feature RF technology with act as your mouse on the screen and are also Universal remotes so you can have them control all of your devices just like a harmony remote. They come in 2 different styles the first one the Gyration GYR4101US Air Music Remote has an lcd display on it and can act as your music library inside of itunes or media player. The standard Gyration Motion Sensing Remote (OEM) does not have an LCD but has all of the popular features.

Wireless Keyboard/Mouse: If you purchased the AR1600 and don't want to use the wired mouse and keyboard then I would suggest getting a wireless keyboard. It isn't completely necessary but is nice to have and clears up cord clutter. If you really want to go all out then go with a keyboard with a built in touchpad which will really complete your HTPC setup.

USB Hub: The Revo includes 6 USB ports, which is nice however I would recommend a nice USB hub since we will be using a lot of USB devices. A powered USB hub will ensure that all of your UBS devices work flawelessly. I highly recommend the
Rosewill RHB-320W 7 Ports USB 2.0 Hub with Power Adapter
.

HDTV antenna: If you are going to go with ATSC Free over the air HD then you will need an antenna. Most of the USB tuners that you purchase will come with a antenna, however if you aren't picking up a lot of channels or need something you can mount indoors or outdoors I suggest the Monoprice HDTV Indoor/Outdoor powered antenna. I own this antenna and it works great and is one of the highest reviewed antennas out there.

Cables: The last thing that you will need is cables for your setup. Do not purchase them from your local store as they are overprice every type of cable out there. I highly recommend Monoprice.com I have ordered so many different types of cables from them and have saved so much money it isn't even funny.

This should be everything that you need, or just about everything I purchased for my setup. I highly recommend purchasing from Newegg.com, Amazon.com, and Monoprice.com. This is where I purchase almost all of my products from since almost everything is free shipping and tax free in certain states.

Revo Setup ->

Comments (48) Trackbacks (2)
  1. Has anyone set up revo and cablecards?

  2. Currently your best bet is going to be the USB Cable Card tuner from ATI if you can find it.
    ATI Page Info page

    It should work just fine.

  3. do you mind posting a diagram of your setup?

  4. I will put this together tonight and update the about page, which is where you will find my setup.

  5. What has been your experience with the Ion, the Flash Beta and streaming video? I have an older P4/3.0Ghz machine with an AGP 3650 and trying to view something like Glee or other Flash from Hulu, SyFy, etc. at 720p gives a “jerky” feeeling – like it’s dropping frames. I’m considering whether to upgrade with a new mobo and i3, or just buying a Revo which would cost about the same as an upgrade!

  6. Take a look at my Review page. I answer a lot of what you are asking about. I haven’t tried hulu desktop for higher resolution video from hulu themselves but I am going to be giving it a go this week for sure and will write up a blog about it.

  7. Motz I’m a little confused by this sentence: “If you are lucky enough to have a Logitech Harmony remote you can simply buy a Media Center IR Remote to use your Harmony Remote with.”

    I have a Harmony, do I need to buy another remote? Does the Revo have an IR port? Thanks.

  8. That was written wrong. There is no IR port on the Revo so you will need to buy a remote that has an IR Receiver with it. I purchased the AVS media center remote because it had the media center IR Receiver so your harmony can learn all of those commands. I will update the page.

  9. Okay, so I guess I could just try to find an USB IR receiver, if they even sell those separate from the windows media remotes. I already have an XBOX 360 remote that has windows media center buttons, so I suppose my Harmony could learn the commands from the 360 remote.

  10. is there a way to use a NAS with Revo acting as the HTPC and writing to NAS instead of the local or a USB drive?
    This is the setup that I am thinking of:
    HDHomeRun (CableCard version due in April 2010) -> Revo (running Win7 or XMBC writing to NAS) -> another Revo (acting as an extender instead of an Xboz or something)
    I need to build an extender which is quite. From what I hear the Xbox is not, do you have any other recommendations?

  11. You should just be able to point the Revo to the directories on your NAS. I can’t comment on using it as a live stream buffer and recording to it. I wouldn’t see why not though.

    As for an extender you could place Revo’s around your house and use them as extenders pointing them to your content on your NAS. The newer xbox 360 are quieter you just have to find the ones with the newer chips (jasper). Here is a site that show you the difference: http://community.winsupersite.com/blogs/paul/archive/2008/12/12/how-to-find-a-jasper-xbox-360.aspx

  12. I am using my Revo 3610 with Xbox360 and both are connected to my NAS (FreeNAS). As Motz indicated I am “watching” my NAS directory. The shows that I am recording on my 3610 are recorded locally then they are moved to the NAS (with RecordedTVManager) works really well and all my other Win7 MediaCenter PC’s have access to my shows. I don’t believe you can record directly to a NAS (maybe you can with Windows Home Server, but I didn’t want to pay $100 extra for it) I have an older Xbox360 and it is quite loud but luckily it is in a closet.
    Also I have two HDHomeruns hooked up they work flawlessly. As far as the Cable card version it is going to be some time before it will be out. They start Beta testing in April. If the Xbox is not quiet enough, I would get another Revo.

  13. KWORLD ATSC TV Stick UB435-Q does not support Qam in MCE

  14. Thanks eje, I will update the page.

  15. @Motz, @Gator99 – Thanks!

  16. HDHomerun Duel is working flawless for me. Planning to add a second. For sure if you are going to do commercial skipping you will not want to write directly to a NAS. You will want to record local and move it to the NAS. If you have no plans to play games, definitely do not get an xbox as an extender.

  17. Can somebody tell me what the best USB tuner there is that is Windows 7 compatible?

  18. What are you looking to watch? ATSC or QAM?

  19. I purchased the Acer Aspire Revo 3610 (that model name just rolls of the tongue, doesn’t it?) a few weeks ago. Overall, it’s worked pretty well once I got everything tweaked the way I wanted it.

    The main complaint I have is the wireless card built into it – it is HORRIBLE!!! I cannot emphasize enough to prospective purchasers of this model to consider how you’re going to connect to the Internet with this HTPC (which is almost is out of the box). Look at the comments on NewEgg or Amazon for this model – everyone who comments on the WiFi remarks about how incredibly broken this is.

    Whenever my family wants to watch Hulu or other streamed content, we have to borrow my daughter’s USB WiFi dongle to get decent downstream rates. Even though the level indicator shows typically 4-5 (out of 5) bars, the fastest downstream rate I’ve gotten with the built-in card is 1.2 MBPS vs. the 100+ it’s theoretically capable of. So – either go with wired or be prepared to purchase an external WiFi adapter.

    P.S. As regards an IR receiver (I have a Harmony and love it), I’ve looked around and it seems you can’t readily buy a new IR Receiver dongle w/o buying a remote along with it. I’m thinking of buying a cheap remote with IR dongle and training the Harmony with that. Thoughts/opinions on that?

  20. Greg,
    I have heard the same thing about the built in card, and although I don’t really recommend using wireless for a HTPC I understand that it is necessary in some setups. I have found a good video on how to add an external antenna to the Revo, take a look: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9QRXobiF_k

    As for the IR receiver, I first attempts a generic “PC remote” with a generic IR Receiver, and I hated it. The problem is that the generic is for computer commands which are somewhat different than specific media center commands. I had to use other applications to trick it to forward a different command onto the computer and that didn’t even work right. I highly recommend just spending the $20ish for one of the AVS remotes I have listed. I also like having a remote as a backup just incase. You could also go on ebay and try to find just the IR dongle for WMC, I have seen them for $10 to $15.

  21. Great write up! I’m currently looking into possibly building myself one of these.

    I’m curious though, can you pause live TV with this HTPC setup? I haven’t seen anywhere suggesting that you can.

    Thanks in advance!

  22. Yep, Windows Media Center allow for pause, rewind, fastforward on live TV :) It is basically just like TiVo, but in my opinion better.

  23. I’m taking a bit of a different approach, and I’m hoping someone can help me out. I just got a new desktop, which was needed, in my office. It has a good video card and HDMI, so I’m going to run HDMI cable through the wall from this PC (in my office) to the TV.

    I’m also wanting a remote control solution to this. I’m looking at the Harmony options, but I’m assuming that I’ll also need to get some time of remote control sensor that I can run with the HDMI cable? I’m looking for the cheapest, effective solutions, which seems to be what this site is focused on, so I’m hoping someone might have a suggestion.

    Thanks!

  24. Well your best bet if you wanted to run media center of your new desktop into the living room or whatever is to get some nice solid cables. If you are going to run the HDMI a long distance than make sure you get a good thick cable. I recommend these in the length you need: http://www.monoprice.com/products/subdepartment.asp?c_id=102&cp_id=10240

    As for the remote, what you would probably need to do is pick up a Media Center remote. On this page take a look at the AVS media center remotes I recommended but since USB is only 15 feet max you will need a repeater for the IR Receiver. Take a look at these:
    http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=103&cp_id=10303&cs_id=1030304&p_id=1986&seq=1&format=2
    or
    http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=103&cp_id=10303&cs_id=1030304&p_id=6149&seq=1&format=2

    If you really wanted to try something different you could try USB over Ethernet extension with these guys:
    http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=103&cp_id=10303&cs_id=1030304&p_id=6042&seq=1&format=2

    I am not sure how much delay you will encounter with it though, hopefully not much but you might need to do some experimentation. You can also use a harmony remote with that AVS media center remote + ir receiver.

  25. if you are going to use third party USB cables, makes sure that they have the RU or UL mark for best performance.*~’

  26. I have a question using the tuner cards. What do you do when you have a cable box, ie directTV (HD) or any other cable supplier that has a cable box? I have been interested in setting something up, current do not have dvr, but would be willing to do this aspect. I currently have a HDTV, PS3 and would need to purchase the other things. Any additional info with DirectTV or another similar cable set up would be helpful.

  27. So if you wanted to use digital cable (Cox, Comcast, Time Warner etc) you could get a cable card tuner (HDHomerun is coming out with one later this year, or a Ceton InfiniTV in a few months) and then rent a cable card from cable company. If you wanted DirectTV or Dish, I believe you are pretty much out of luck here, you have to go with their box. Also to mention that if you go the cable card route with digital cable you would not get cable on demand.

  28. Would the Xbox 360 Universal Media Remote (http://www.xbox.com/en-US/hardware/x/xbox360universalremote/) be a sufficient option for a remote? Thanks.

  29. It would actually work, but you need the USB IR Receiver for it to work.

  30. Hello everyone,

    Just a note that the wifi issues that everyone are having are due to interference caused by the included wireless mouse and keyboard. They operate on the same frequency as typical wifi and result in signal interference and loss. Some older cordless phones will have the same effect. If the included wireless mouse and keyboard are disabled, then the onboard wifi will work fine.

    Have a great day!

  31. I read earlier that the KWORLD ATSC TV Stick UB435-Q does not work with MC, yet it’s still on your list. Any updates on this one or others? I would like the dual tuner so I don’t have to switch between QAM and ATSC. I have Comcast with the DTA box but QAM signals in Sacramento are either pretty weak or my new house doesn’t let a thing in. Also, is there a particular USB where you would suggest plugging in a powered USB hub? I’m running a LG DVD Lightscribe and a generic MC remote I got from Amazon for about $20. Nice little remote (hot buttons!), but do you think I need something more robust (Harmony remote) for time slipping? Remote will sleep MC and exit. Thanks for the insights on this and the tuner.

  32. hi guys im kindda confused here, please help me out:

    so, in order to just “tune” or watch live tv from cable or over the air, i need a tv tuner?… and if i want to record i need a cablecard???

    if i want to record and watch over the air and cable tv on my pc, would the ATI Theater HD 750 USB TV Tuner work just fine? or i still need a cablecard?

    my other question would be; if the ATI Theater HD 750 USB TV Tuner would work just fine for recording and watching.. do i need two if them if i want to record a show and watch a different one while recording??

    im using an acer AR 3610 with windows 7/windows media center

  33. You are fine with just an Over the Air Tuner like the HD 750. This will allow you to watch/record/pause live tv that is free over the air. The only reason you would need a cable card is if you had cable through a provider and wanted the ability to play back/record/pause that tv, and you would need a different tuner such as the USB ATI Cable Card Tuner, or the Ceton InfiniTV.

  34. Just bought a barely-used Acer Revo 1600 for the purposes of becoming an HTPC, leaning HEAVILY (exclusively?) on this page. But a question comes to mind before I start putting all the pieces into place. Due to my TV, I’m limited to using DVI, rather than having an HDMI port. No problem, monoprice have a few HDMI-DVI cables for very reasonable prices. But what about audio into my receiver? I’ve got a 5-channel receiver, and I’d live to make the most of it. So what is the recommendation for getting audio out of the Revo and into my speakers?

    Also, it might cost more than I just paid for the Revo itself, but what about the Logitech diNovo keyboard? It doesn’t have a trackpad, but their “TouchDisc” for scrolling.

    I’ve got an extra cable card at home (thought I needed two in my TiVo HD, never returned the second one), but it seems like there are no truly viable options for making use of this right now, unless I’m overlooking something here.

  35. Hopefully I can help you out a bit. The HDMI to DVI should work for the Video, but in that case you could just us a VGA to DVI adapter which are really cheap. The only real way to get auto do your receiver would be through the headphones out on the front. you will only get 2 channels of audio at that point. Without HDMI I do not think you will be able to get any more than this anyways. The upgraded Revo 3600&3700 have digital optical out, but the 1600 does not so you are sort of stuck for now.

    As for the keyboard I have seen the diNovo which looks nice but is way too expensive for me. I have see the one for the PS3 http://www.logitech.com/en-us/keyboards/keyboard/devices/3616 which is around $80 and all you would need is a little blue tooth adapter for the revo which are about $2.

    As for the cable card, there is the external USB cable card tuner ATI made, however it is discontinued now. HDHomerun is going to be coming out with a network tuner that you could use with the Revo, but it doesn’t come out for a little bit.

  36. Agreed on the diNovo, that is one very steep price.

    Sounds like I’m a little out of luck for using the cable card for now. No problem there, I can wait. May even just go with the over the air signal, since the majority of what I might want to record reaches us that way, too.

    As for audio, in my brief searching, there also doesn’t appear to be anything that will interface with USB for an audio output option, is that correct? Is there any kind of splitter that will take the audio output from the HDMI and allow that to be sent to the receiver via RCA?

  37. OK, maybe this would be an alternative to splitting the audio out from an HDMI output. Turtle Beach Audio Advantage Micro II http://www.turtlebeach.com/products/sound-cards/audio-advantage-micro-ii.aspx

  38. Very interesting, I have not seen this before but Turtle Beach is of decent quality. Let me know how it goes.

  39. Will do. Amazon has it for under $20, so that’s certainly not a huge setback.

  40. Finally got a chance to test the Turtle Beach Audio Advantage Micro II. And the results are good so far. I haven’t tried to see if a movie will give full surround, but at the very least, a clear audio comes through just fine.

    It was interesting to see just how the TOSLINK adapter works, too. It’s really nothing more than a hollow tube, crafted to plug into the headphone port on one end, and allow a TOSLINK connection on the other end. The USB dongle is already providing both an optical and electrical signal for the audio.

    Pretty nifty for a very reasonable price. I’d add it as optional equipment, if you have an open optical port in your audio equipment.

    Now, to find the time to rewire all my audio and video so it all works how I want it to…

  41. I’ll be in the market for an HTPC/DIY DVR in a few months when we cut the cord on DirecTV, and the one thing I’ve got slight reservations on is whether the latest AR3700 plus a USB tuner stick can handle whatever processing power is needed to record/encode an HD signal. Will that setup be able to handle it okay?

    And out of the USB tuners you’ve recommended on this page (and considering availability), what’s your current recommendation for what tuner to go with?

    Great guide though – I’m excited to dive into this!

  42. I had 3 USB tuners on my 1600 and it ran just fine, and it seems like the upgraded 3700 specs are pretty good. You could always go with a custom zotac with an AMD processor as well. My number 1 selling usb tuner is the ATi 750: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002UOUQ08?ie=UTF8&tag=revohtpc-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B002UOUQ08

    Although I also really really like the HDHomeRuns which are ethernet based and has a dual tuner which is highly recommended: http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8&location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2Fs%3Fie%3DUTF8%26x%3D0%26ref_%3Dnb_sb_noss%26y%3D0%26field-keywords%3Dhdhomerun%26url%3Dsearch-alias%253Delectronics&tag=bigmovdea-20&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=390957

    Hope this helps.

  43. Thanks Motz, that does help quite a bit.

    That USB tuner seems like the one to go with, and certainly seems to have good reviews on most websites.

    The HDHomeRuns are maybe a *tad* too rich for my blood, but I agree a dual tuner would certainly be nice.

  44. I have had a terrible time trying to get the ATI/Diamond 750 working on my Revo 3610 in Windows Media Center. Live TV doesn’t work at all; MC complains that “Files needed to display video are not installed or not working correctly. Please restart Media Center and or restart the computer.” Recorded tv doesn’t work properly for PBS; the audio/video skips every 1-3 seconds.

    I used to have the ATI/Diamond 600 tuner, but that doesn’t record QAM, so I upgraded to the 750. I’ve tried upgrading to 4GB of RAM, but that doesn’t help. I’ve tried uninstalling/reinstalling drivers, but to no avail. I uninstalled every ATI driver I could find on the system, thinking that leftover cruft from my 600 might be causing some kind of conflict. I *might* have gone too far there because I don’t have the ATI Avivo codec anymore, and re-installing the 600 or 750 software doesn’t re-install it (the system seems confused and thinks it’s there when it’s not or something).

    I’m considering doing a system restore, but I created my system backup cd/dvd *after* all Hell had broken loose. Does anyone know if when you create an Acer system restore disk, does it just burn a disk based on a pre-packed ISO image or the like? Or does it burn it based on the current system drivers and whatnot?

    My audio is configured for 5.1, but there’s something wonky in the signal over HDMI because my Onkyo receiver treats it like stereo.

    I’ve been hoping to get this resolved for the past 12 months or so. If anyone has a working setup with the 750, please post your system specs. Thanks much!

  45. Miracle of miracles! I found some advice somewhere that said “change the Windows audio settings in Control Panel to stereo,” and that worked! Live TV of HD channels is working for the first time…ever! Older recordings play back properly now! My Tivo replacement is finally up to par! Yay!

  46. I am glad you got it working, that is extremely odd that it did that. A complete reformat might get the 5.1 working again maybe it was just a driver mismatch.

  47. I got Acer Aspire Revo AR-3700. How do I activate the wireless keyboard during initial setup?


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