I’ve spent a considerable amount of effort trying to convince you to get an HTPC, and nettops like the AspireRevo R3610 are a big reason why. It’s affordable at $US330, and it delivers a quality HD video experience.
What It Can Do
Play HD Video
Like it’s predecessor, the R3610’s handling of HD video is impressive for such an inexpensive machine. I watched plenty of downloaded 1080p video and playback was generally smooth. This is where the AspireRevo really shines.
This isn’t a system for serious gaming, but for casual gamers that don’t need the graphics cranked up to the max, the AspireRevo delivers thanks to the inclusion of NVIDIA Ion. With the settings set at a low but acceptable 1024×768 resolution, I was able to play World of Warcraft with no problems at all. Of course, the game is five years old and designed to be easy on the graphics.
The AspireRevo features 802.11b/g/Draft-N connectivity, so it does a great job of streaming media. If you need more storage than the 160GB on board, you can easily connect the Revo to a network-attached storage device if you decide to go that route.
Ports, Ports and More Ports
So yeah, six USB 2.0 ports on this thing. It also has HDMI, VGA, a media card reader, eSATA and S/PDIF. Basically, everything you need and then some.
What It Can’t Do
The R35610 has a beefier processor this time around (Dual Core Atom 330), but let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that this nettop is going to satisfy the hardcore crowd. I experienced some sluggish loading times – especially when multiple programs were running.
Play Blu-ray or DVDs
If you want to play Blu-ray movies or DVDs, it ain’t gonna happen without a built-in optical drive. You will have to buy that separately.
There is no TV tuner or CableCARD on board, so you will need a USB adaptor for DVR functionality. Fortunately, you will probably have a free port.
What Needs Tweaking
Internet HD Playback
Until Adobe releases Flash 10.1, which includes support for NVIDIA Ion graphics acceleration, you are going to have to deal with some choppy video from sites like YouTube. It’s a massively annoying problem, but only a temporary one. I’m impatient, so I went ahead and downloaded the 10.1 beta, which seemed to remedy the situation quite well.
The AspireRevo R3610 isn’t the kind of computer I would rely on for power web surfing. I encountered problems with web pages sticking, choking or freezing altogether. On several occasions, the whole computer seemed to lock up. I could still control my mouse, but there was no response to clicks or commands. Sometimes this issue resolved itself, other times I did a hard reboot out of frustration.
However, things improved after I loaded Flash 10.1 and lessened the load on the GPU by disabling the Windows 7 Aero interface. Browsing seems a bit snappier and I haven’t experienced the mysterious lock up issue since, but it’s still not perfect. Chrome seemed to run the best when compared to IE and Firefox, but I still experience hiccups. For example, Google Wave is almost unusable on all three browsers (Yes, I actually use Google Wave).
If you are looking for a budget desktop computer, the AspireRevo R3610 will do the job as long as you are not pushing its limits. However, it’s best to play to the strengths here and use it as an HTPC. The R3610 is small enough to tuck behind your TV, it handles HD video admirably, and the inclusion of Flash 10.1 will get the most out of NVIDIAs graphics acceleration, thereby overcoming the problems you will experience out of the box with streaming internet video.
The Windows 7 experience is decent, and you will be able to enjoy all of the benefits of Windows Media Center, but you may need to sacrifice graphics features like Aero in order to optimise performance. Still, I would say that the AspireRevo R3610 is a definite “buy” for anyone looking to get an HTPC on a budget.