Acer Revo One RL85 review

A desktop PC that pretends it's a TiVo

Acer Revo One RL85

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The small form factor sector finally feels like it's coming of age. With super-cheap kit like the Intel NUC coming in at under £100 (around $155, or AU$195) and super-quiet devices like this, there's a real challenge to Apple. Cupertino will need to step up its game to make the Mac mini the must-have for anything more than the brand name.

We liked

Whilst the design doesn't go for the brushed steel of Apple, it's a pleasingly robust little device to have ticking away quietly in the corner of the living room, looking just like a turret from Portal. Despite our problems getting into the casing, the design inside and out is pleasing. Those smart little caddies make upgrading a doddle, though the RAM is slightly harder to reach.

While the Build Your Own Cloud element is a bit of a gimmick, we can see it being genuinely useful if you need to access files accidentally left at home, or just want remote backups of your photography. One might argue, though, that Dropbox and Google Drive both already perform this role admirably.

Though the benchmarks were middling, the Revo One showed that it could handle high refresh rates on large screens perfectly well.

We disliked

The controller was the most dreadful element of the experience, with a dissonant design and an eagerness to cram every function onto something really not suited to this aim. We can see why the UK versions are coming with a wireless keyboard and mouse.

The hardware was also quite tightly packed – opening the casing was unnecessarily tricky and the HDMI port was so tight we were worried we would break the machine whilst extracting the connector.

Final verdict

It might look like a toaster that's wandered out of the kitchen, but the Acer Revo One does exactly what it set out to. It's a smart, tiny device that fits well in every environment but is especially designed for home entertainment – gamers will surely go for something like the Alienware Alpha instead.

For this machine, we'd advise you to download XMBC/Kodi as soon as possible, to avoid the inevitable Windows slowdown. The sideline of being able to act as a data server, both at home and when you're out, is certainly a nice bonus.

And £399 ($500 in the US, which is around AU$620) is really not a bad price, comparing well with the low-end Mac mini and especially the poorer performing Lenovo IdeaCentre Q190. We'd just rather see this form factor without pre-loaded software or hardware and at half this price, so we could set it up ourselves.

We know that we could knock up an NUC with the same CPU and hardware for around the same price – but it just wouldn't be as attractive (or support RAID 5).