Acer’s Revo RL100 marries AMD CPU and ION graphics

An unholy mix that somehow works

ACER IS A COMPANY that isn’t shy to mix and match things when it comes to its computers, but its latest addition to the Revo family of low power computers is something that made us take notice when we saw the spec at a quick hands on earlier today, It’s got an AMD Athlon II Neo CPU and Nvidia ION graphics. Sadly we didn’t have too much time to play with the media centric system, but we did manage to snap a few shots of it.

The Revo RL100 has as yet to hit retail in most of the world, but it just did in Taiwan and it’ll be on sale during the IT Month which is Taiwan’s biggest consumer IT fair which kicks off this weekend. At a preview event for the media ahead the show, Acer was showing off the 25mm (0.98in) tall (or is that short?) media centric system which features an unusual combination of hardware to say the least. It also has one feature that we’d like to see in every HTPC, a detachable touchpad remote that also doubles up as a keyboard, but more on that a little bit later.

Looking at the hardware specifications, we got an AMD Athlon II Neo K325 processor at the core of the system which has been paired up with Nvidia’s nForce 520 LE chipset – talk about a blast from the past – as well as an unspecified ION graphics solution, although we’d guess this is the same PCI Express x1 solution that has made its way to Intel’s Atom platform. Throw in 4GB of DDR3 1333MHz memory in the shape of two SO-DIMMs and what we presume is a 2.5-inch hard drive – 640GB appears to be standard – and you got a fairly interesting combination of bits. However, it doesn’t stop here, as Acer has also fitted a Blu-ray/Super-Multi combo drive of the notebook type to the RL100, so you can watch HD movies on your shiny new flat screen TV.

Other features include Gigabit Ethernet, an HDMI port, an optical S/PDIF out, a pair of 3.5mm audio jacks for a headset and a microphone, two rear USB 2.0 ports, a front USB 2.0 port and a front mounted card reader. The RL100 also has built in 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 3.0+HS. For those that are adventurous and want to tinker with the system; it has two internal mini PCI Express slots of the kind usually found in notebooks. The RL100 might be low profile, but at 300x180mm (11.8x7in) (WxD) it’s about the size of a typical DVD player, although considering its intended usage, this might not be a terrible thing.

That brings us to the remote which is fantastic little thing, although we didn’t get a chance to have a really good play with it, that would require “field” use. There’s a small eject lever on the left hand side of the system that pops out the remote from its storage and charging position just below the optical drive. In standard mode the remote is a large multi-touch touchpad and you simply use it for navigation around the OS, just as you would with any other touchpad. Press the little button in the top right corner and a backlight comes on and reveals a keyboard layout which also sports remote control functionality, a really clever way of combining ease of navigation with the added benefit of actually having a keyboard handy at all times. There’s also a small scroll wheel on the left hand side of the remote that adjusts the volume. Acer claims up to 72h battery life in touch mode for the remote.

For good measures Acer throws in a copy of Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit, as well as its in-house software which supports DLNA streaming among other things. The only problem and which we can see being the main reason why people wouldn’t buy the RL100 is the steep asking price of NT$23600, or $774, not exactly what we’d call a bargain, but in due time we’d expect this to come down to more reasonable levels. Still, if nothing else, it’s an interesting product in terms of design and we might end up with some better solutions using the same chassis as soon as AMD gets their Llano platform out the door.S|A

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