There's something seductive about slimeline black slabs of technology. Perhaps it's the indoctrination that black monoliths are a gateway to some godly realm or better yet, that they might play your Blu-ray discs without making too much of a racket.
To add to the clutter of boxes huddling up to your TV for warmth, Acer has its very own slab of tech to throw into the ring. In many ways it's an unassuming thing, being just 25mm thick, 300mm high and 180mm deep. But inside that chassis it packs enough to connect, entertain and surprise us all.
The key is its Blu-ray/DVD-RW combo drive and HDMI v1.4 video output. We say this is key because it means this comes Blu-ray 3D-ready. Currently you're either rolling your eyes and these words are possibly flying through the air with the rest of the magazine, or else we still have your attention.
It's probably best to think of this as a Blu-ray player that also happens to run Windows 7 and has an integrated digital TV tuner. It gives you a complete digital entertainment station in one; well, apart from 3D but hold that thought.
Alongside the HDMI is an optical S/PDIF, plus 3.5mm headphone and mic jacks, so you can hook the audio up to anything you need.
Powering this along is the lowpower AMD Athlon II Neo K325. Technically a mobile dual-core CPU, it draws 12W, runs at 1.3GHz with 2x 1MB L2 cache. It's not strong stuff as the encoding results of 3.43fps show: even in the mobile space we'd be pulling faces at its performance.
But function here is more important than form. Alongside it is the Nvidia Ion 2, which provides flawless 1080p HD decoding and a level of 3D performance that hovers somewhere around Arrendale integrated levels of 3D performance. That's good enough to play older DirectX 9 games at 720p resolutions: hardly inspiring but it's at least better than a poke in the eye.
The surprise the Revo RL100 has waiting for you is a slide-out touchpad that doubles as a backlit keyboard. It's a genius addition that even the wife approves of.
A button switches between the keyboard and touchpad modes. It works well and is highly responsive: we personally had to turn off some of the multi-touch features but other people may take to them better.
Acer also bundles its Clear.fi media sharing software, something it's clearly going to push heavily. It will make media sharing easy between Acer products but nothing else. Plus we thought that was in Windows 7 already, so what's the point?
The RL100 is quiet in use and provides all the connected PC features you want alongside Blu-ray playing and an unobtrusive living-room design. Running Windows 7 offers every service you could want, plus complete web browsing with that continually awful Windows interface (when compared to Apple TV, Xbox or PlayStation 3).
But at £500, why not simply choose a PS3 if you just want a Blu-ray player, or otherwise buy a cheap dual-core laptop and get something that's more flexible and just as able?
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