Revo HTPC
8Feb/126

NEW!!! Acer Revo RL70-UR10P Released!

Hot off my refresh of new Acer Revo's available, Acer has gone ahead and released a brand new Revo into the wild. 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
3Sep/110

How to get TV on your Revo

A lot of people have asked me how they are able to get Television (including cable tv) onto their Revo. Under equipment in the Guide I list a bunch of options for over the air television (ATSC) including network attached and also USB powered. I use 3 USB ATSC tuners for over the air television. I don't pay for TV, but I also only get 13 or so channels...HD though. Now if you are a cable subscriber then recently there have been a few nice solutions that have come out to get your Revo recording Cable Television.

Step 1.) Pick the device:

You still have 2 options here. First is to go with a network attached tuner. This is a device that connects to your wired network via ethernet. These are great because you can put them anywhere in you house, and you can share them between multiple HTPCs in the house. The obvious choice is the SiliconDust HDHomeRun PRIME which offers 3 tuners built in. This will allow you to record 3 shows at the same time!
The second option here is to go the USB route. There are 2 USB devices now that offer this functionality. First is the Hauppauge WinTV DCR-2650 Dual Tuner Cable Card TV Tuner. Hauppauge is a trusted tv tuner maker that has been in the game for some time. This is a dual tuner which means you can record 2 shows at the same time. It is a bit cheaper than the HD Homerun Prime and will only run you $150. You can read a full review over at The Digital Media Zone.

Lastly, Ceton is coming out with a USB Quad tuner! Ceton is a big name in the tuner game now because they released the InfiniTV PCIe tuner which offered a quad tuner for HTPCs. This has by far been one of the most successful tuners to date. The Ceton USB tuner will be released September 19th for $300.

Step 2) Get a cable card
You will need to call up your cable company and get a multistream cable card. You can usually rent these from your cable company for about $3-$5 a month. This is still a savings over the $10+ that you pay to rent a cable box with a horrible interface.

Step 3) Cable card install.
You will literally need to have the cable card installed into the new device. You are now allowed to do a Self Install, however you can simply have your cable company come out, and type in some codes to handle this. Check out a nice article with pros and cons over at The Digital Media Zone

Step 4) record awesome television :) Just remember that you will not get "Premium content" like cable on demand or VoD. However now you have an awesome interface with Windows Media Center.

I hope this was helpful. If you have questions feel free to contact me.

13Jun/110

Acer Revo RL100 Finally Shipping in the US

That is right the Revo RL100 which I got my hands on in Munich airport a ways back is finally shipping in the US. It will most likely be available at Newegg and Amazon, however at time of posting they were not listed yet. Acer has also announced the 2 different configurations which will launch and they have kept it nice and simple.with the only difference being a blu-ray  upgrade on the drive. For only $500 you will get a 1.3GHz AMD Athlon II CPU, 750 GB HD, 4GB DDR3 Ram, 3 USB Ports, multi-card reader, 802.11 bgn wifi, ethernet port, hdmi, Windows 7 Hompe Premium and of course the awesome touch pad. The thing looks amazing just a 1x11.81x7.09 inches. It looks like I might be changing out my HTPC once more.... Here are some press shots. You can read the full article and press release over on engadget.

6Mar/112

Acer Aspire Revo 100 Hands On

Acer_Revo-100RL100

I just happened to be wondering through the Munich Airport on my way to Romania, and I happened to find the Acer booth. I was checking out a few of their laptops and desktops and around the corner low and behold was a brand new Acer Aspire Revo 100 hooked up to an Acer LCD Television. I talked to the Acer representative for a while about it and showed him RevoHTPC.com and then he let me do a hands on video for a few minutes. Overall the specs on the machine are really nice. It is rocking Nvidia ION graphics, but is no longer coupled with an Atom this model had a Dual Core Athlon II. This is a great upgrade because as we know the Atom is very low powered and while isn't horrible isn't amazing either. You could also deck it out with Wifi, Blu-ray drive, 500GB hard drive, and 4GB RAM. I am not sure if the 499 Euro price tag included all of these features, but that seems about correct. The best part of the Revo 100 is the built in rechargeable wireless track pad and keyboard. This thing is really slick you have a full track pad and at a touch of a button will bring up the full keyboard with multimedia controls to boot. You can simply plug it right into the docking station back in the Revo to charge it. On the side of the remote was a little slider that let you control the volume if you were on keyboard mode, or scroll up and down if you were in track pad mode. Overall the system looked great standing up right next to the television. It looked exactly like a PS2 slim, which is a great design to begin with. Here is a little hands on video that I shot while I was there:

2Mar/111

Linux Powered Revo Guide and Review

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For a long time everyone has asked me to do a write up on how Linux works with the Revo 1600. I am not a huge Linux fan so I went straight for Windows 7 and Windows Media Center for my Revo. However since I built a new HTPC my little Revo has just been hanging out waiting for some love, so I decided to install my age old enemy Linux and see what happens. The goal in mind was to first simply get a system installed that would play back my media and perhaps get some streaming video. There are a lot of options out there including XBMC, Boxee, and of course Hulu Desktop for streaming. I will eventually want to expand this to include Linux powered DVR, but let’s start small.

Installing Linux

WP_000079There are a lot of Linux distributions out there, however the most popular by far has to be Ubuntu. Not only is it the most popular, but it is really easy to install. You can run Ubuntu straight off a USB drive, install it side by side a Windows install, or just install it fully. I like Ubuntu for data retrieval, but this is the first time I will be using it as the OS. All you need to do is head over to the download page and download it. I selected USB stick and that I will be creating it with Windows. It will guide you through the process, but it is extremely easy. Once you have it installed you are good to go. It is important that you remember your password because every time you install something you will be prompted to enter your credentials. You will also want to install the latest NVidia drive for Linux. A nice little guide is located here.

Installing Software

I decided to give three different pieces of software a try. The first install is the easiest by far, which is Boxee, all you need to do is download the Linux .deb file and double click to install it inside of the Ubuntu Software Center. Let’s keep is simple again by installing Hulu Desktop by just selecting Ubuntu 32-bit to download the .deb file and again simply install it inside of Ubuntu Software Center. Now it is time to get all difficult and install XBMC, alright not that difficult. All you really need to do is follow the first step on their wiki page, which is to bring up the terminal and follow what they tell you.

Performance

XBMC:

WP_000080While XBMC might not have my favorite user interface in the entire world, it seems to play back content great on Linux. You can add content in tons of different ways including local content, network content (mine was on my windows home server), and even through plugins. There are a ton of plugins for XBMC including Revision 3, Grooveshark, NPR, Engadget, TWit, Trailer Addict, Youtube, Facebook photo, flicker, picasa and so much more. The plugins can all be installed straight from the user interface as well. I will say that media playback was great streaming across my network. Music, standard DVD rips, and even 720p video files played back very smooth.  The install is a bit odd, but overall I really enjoyed the experience.

Boxee:

WP_000078Boxee is great because it is an all on one solution and has great streaming potential. Boxee is also great because it automatically grabs all of the meta data for all of your music, movies, and television episodes for you. Streaming music across the network was just fine, however when it came to video it was a different story. Stand DVD quality movies played just fine but when I through 720p content at it the choppiness started right up. Even after a few minutes the video seemed to improve but just wasn’t as good as XBMC. Boxee still has a lot of plugins however. I tested out Revision 3 and Onion News and overall the quality was good and playback was pretty smooth, but XBMC still did it better. As for streaming content, what a disaster. Just like the Revo on Windows 7 with Boxee nothing worked at all. The video seemed to buffer and play but it kept to a small tiny box in the corner. Perhaps this could be fixed, but I am not sure.

Hulu Desktop:

WP_000081Oh Hulu how I love you for being able to play back the latest episodes of my favorite shows for free (some ads of course). When flash 10.1 came out it was a revolution for the Revo as Flash content finally played back smooth on the low powered Revo. Hulu Desktop worked pretty well on Windows, but on Linux it was a different story. Usually I am able to play back High quality, but it was just choppy as it could be. I tried Medium and the story was the same. If I brought it out of full screen mode then it seemed to play better. The UI was about as responsive as it was on the Windows, which isn’t saying much so overall fail for Hulu Desktop.

Netflix:

Doesn’t work at all from what I can tell.

Youtube & the Web:

I wanted to give Youtube a try on Linux since thing thing came pre-installed with Flash 10.2 & Firefox. I tried out the same video that I tested with the Revo which was the Nvidia 1080p test video and it was all over the play. 1080p completely chugged so I tried 720p and it was the same. Lowering the quality down to 480p seemed to work just fine. I tried out southparkstudios.com and after a few attempts and a lot of buffering it kind of worked… Let’s just say it had a lot of problems as did vimeo. I thought perhaps it was Firefox so I decided to give Google Chrome a try. After a short download and install I tested out the sites again. First off Chrome on Ubuntu is way better then Firefox even for browsing. It was faster and oh my goodness flash videos actually played. Southparkstudios.com was able to stream all sorts of videos even at full screen just like it should. Vimeo seemed to play back just fine as well if HD was not on, after buffering of course. HD youtube still didn’t play and I had to go down to 480p to get it streaming smooth.

Summary

Overall I am really impressed with XBMC on the Linux powered Revo. I feel as though I need to go out and get a wireless dongle for it to put it under my television in the bedroom. I still need to test out some remotes with it for it to become a true HTPC. I also plan on testing out mythbuntu for a Linux powered DVR. I still think that while the Windows Media Center interface might have been a bit slower overall it was a better HTPC compared to this setup. However if you just have a lot local files and music and don’t want to purchase Windows 7 this might be a pretty good route to go. Hey it is free, so give it a try if you want!

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