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In our previous Atom reviews we were not too fond of the power-consumption because the Atom is paired up with the horrid 945GC chipset, which Intel probably found in some hidden dungeons below its HQ. The "Ion" however does paint a different picture. The CPU of course is still slow, but the chipset did help and even ran Vista at an acceptable pace, so we hope Windows 7 will improve on that. It manages to get under the 20W mark in idle mode, but we had troubles to push the system over 25W so the reason behind Acer's decision to ship this system with a 65W external power-supply is a riddle we won't even try to solve.
The idea behind the Revo is a good one, but the execution lacks. First of all, there are some design problems, especially with the GbLAN connector. Not everyone owns a TFT with HDMI input, so they will be forced to use a HDMI to DVI dongle. If this is just a dongle and not a cable, you can barely fit the network cable into the socket. A system which consumes only about 25W does not need active cooling when fitted in such a big case. Even with active cooling they should think about a bigger fan which will generate less noise.
As this gadget sells for €299,- in Germany and Austria while in France you can buy it for less than €250. Acer launches it systems strategically and it picks the region launch time and pricing based on its own formula. Compared to Asus' Eee Box or MSI's Wind, the price is competitive, because Acer Revo offers basic gaming and good multimedia and in this fight it clearly wins over Intel's nettop platform.
The trouble is that for the same price you get a netbook, and for €100,- more a decent notebook with a "real" CPU. This is not a machine meant for this market but this is just a thought. This machine is also too slow to replace a desktop. For your everyday work you can't be expected to wait 20 seconds until IE kindly opens a new tab for you.
Yes, you can install XP which will work faster, but then you mayl loose the HD decoding possibilities of the chipset when the driver does not support EVR (Enhanced Video Rendering). Due to time pressure we could not install XP to test it. For less than 1/3 of the price you can also buy tons of multimedia players such as the WD Digital Media Player which comes with more outputs and doesn't need any Windows OS. Note that Windows 7 will run nicely on this machine and you should be able to improve your experience due to DX support inside the Ion chip.
Nvidia's Ion definitely makes a difference and improves the nettop platform significantly. We would rather say it gets Atom nettop "desktop" platform to the next level as it can play 1080p video flawlessly, and it can let you play Call of Duty 4 at some basic resolutions. Additionally, this machine can also accelerate CUDA applications, which would probably speed up your video conversion and a few other operations as well. This should be enough for most consumers, but if only Acer used a dual-core Atom, it would have ended up with a fierce competitor and a sure winner on its hands.
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