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)
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.
- Kingston 2GB DDR3 800MHZ (AR3700)
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.
- ATI TV Wonder HD 600: (ATSC) I own 2 of these, and paid about $20 each
- KWorld UB435Q: (ATSC & Clear QAM(QAM might not work in WMC)) I own 1 of these, and paid $30
- ATI Theater HD 750 USB TV Tuner: An upgrade from the ATI 600 USB Tuner, as the 750 supports ATSC/NTSC/QAM and QAM seems to work inside of Media Center just fine.
- Hauppauge PCTV HD Pro Stick: (ATSC & Clear QAM)
- ATI TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner : (Cable Card) you will have to search for this one, as USB Cable Card Tuners are rare and hard to find.
- HDHomerun Networked Attached Tuner
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.
- Western Digital External USB Drives 1TB+
- Rosewill External Hard Drive Enclosure with Fan (USB & eSATA): I own this and it is excellent.
- Seagate 750GB 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive
- Samsung 1TB 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive
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.
- Wireless keyboards with touchpad
- i-Rock Wireless keyboard and mouse
- Wireless keyboards and mouse on Amazon.com
- Loop Pointer In-Air Mouse: This is a mouse replacement which I have reviewed and recommended.
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.