As of this writing, we have been enjoying Acer’s Ion-powered AspireRevo gaming laptop for several weeks. Despite its diminutive size and affordable price tag, it offers a much more compelling experience than its smaller counterparts. We tested a model that contained an Atom 230 processor, 2GB of memory, and a 250GB 2.5-inch hard drive, and we understand the suggested retail price that comes with it is After the break, be sure to read the full report.
A good out-of-box experience is one of our favorite things, and we were mostly pleasantly surprised by the Revo — except for one main defect. Incorporating a small power brick, a sturdy stand, and few other features, the device falls into the category of small, economical, and easy to use. Our first attempt at setting it up next to our TV was to plug in the HDMI cable. However, on the first boot, the Revo would not open to HDMI, so we had to plug in a VGA cable and then switch to HDMI once it became more Fortunately, the whole process is seamless post-HDMI We plugged in the Lite-On Blu-ray drive included in our reviewer kit (detailed reviews will be available soon), and Revo noticed it right away, and soon we were watching a Blu-ray movie on the computer with CyberLink PowerDVD 9. The Revo came with a lot of pre-installed software that demonstrated Ion’s capabilities, but with a machine like ours that needs all the CPU headroom it can get, “perks” like Google Desktop and McAfee aren’t very welcome.
There’s more to the story than meets the eye Both the CPU and GPU are involved. We were very impressed by the performance of the NVIDIA Ion (it’s basically a GeForce 9400m for really cheap and low-power computers), but unfortunately its sluggish Atom 230 processor almost ruins the entire experience. Ion can also run Vista accelerated interface elements like Aero Glass and Flip3D are nice, and the windowing system is much snappier than traditional netbooks, but at the cost of a performance hit over XP — hopefully Windows 7 will be arriving soon to solve this problem. We found that an initial startup could be faster, but the time to a “usable” desktop could be quite a bit longer – it took us almost as long to open Firefox as it did to Interestingly, we noticed that the web browsing experience, which we had expected would be at the center of a top-notch experience, was the weakest. It was sometimes difficult for us to connect to our WiFi network, and in fact Gmail had a tendency to stop working while it was trying to get its packets through, so at times it seemed to run better over Ethernet than It’s a complete nightmare using Internet Explorer, but Firefox is better, and Chrome is even better, but we wouldn’t feel comfortable doing heavy browsing on the system on a regular Playback of 1080p video is clearly the best part of the video manager, offering all types of accelerated video. However, if you want to succeed, you must take the necessary steps. Whenever I try to play a 1080p QuickTime movie in PowerDVD, it runs smoothly, but when I play it in QuickTime, it looks awful since QuickTime does not support GPU acceleration. Although you can watch Blu-ray movies beautifully, you have to wait through the slow start-up time and unresponsiveness of the interface of
With a few clicks of the mouse, the Badaboom transcoding software takes care of large transcoding jobs in a matter of minutes, converting 720p camera footage into iPhone-friendly files in mere minutes — one of Ion’s more impressive features. It was difficult for the Revo to playback Flash videos. We had no trouble playing Hulu at low-res in a window, but as soon as we went fullscreen it became very Even YouTube managed low quality frames slowly, though, about a quarter of a frame per second.
The Sporch system plays great after a rather lengthy installation process, with only a couple of minor hiccups, and we imagine games like World of Warcraft would run well on it. However, despite a game like Team Fortress 2 playing, the Revo needed some serious downgrading in graphics and frame rate issues to be a viable solution. Still, it was usually the quietest item in our apartment, making it a prime candidate for home entertainment work. It was completely mute for a while, and somehow the sound was being suppressed through HDMI due to a bug. We got back on track after a restart.
In general, the Revo seems like an odd mix-one that excels at “enthusiast” applications like video transcoding and gaming, but struggles to handle everyday tasks like a basic web page
It is true that the market will solve some of this — it’s a lot of bang for the buck — but we recommend factory manufacturers pair Ion with a higher-performance chip as quickly as possible. Then they might be able to expand their target market a bit. You should note Our testing was occasionally interrupted by crashes. In my conversation with NVIDIA, it seems that there’s a glitch with our unit, and they are sending us a replacement to see if the errors can be replicated. We will let you know if we see the errors again. There was no problem with NVIDIA’s device either in their testing or outside testing. NVIDIA and outside parties conducted the same tasks as we did and they encountered no problems. This is one of the things that makes us lucky.