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13 November 2009

Acer Revo: Easy on the eyes

The Acer Revo is a funky looking nettop that will look great in any living room.


THERE is a cool looking nettop in town and it goes by the name of Acer Revo.

With its slightly angular and glossy black and white design, a small footprint — it’s about the size of a phonebook — you won’t be hard pressed to find the perfect spot to place it anywhere in the house.

It can be next to the HDTV, a TV cabinet or you can even mount the nettop behind an LCD monitor. A plastic stand and a VESA-based mount are included in the box.

But it would be a shame if you choose the latter option as the device is meant to be shown off and not hidden away from view.

The review unit came with a matching wireless keyboard and optical mouse, a pair of cute mini USB speakers and an external webcam — all in white glossy casing.

The nettop was also bundled with an Acer 23in widescreen LCD ­monitor.

TOGETHER:The R3600-A23XA model comes with matching mouse, keyboard, USB speakers and webcam. Also included is a 23in widescreen LCD. Ports ahoy

There is no optical drive but what it does have is plenty of data ­connectivity options, including six USB ports, one eSata port and an Ethernet jack as well as a SD card reader. Also, everything is well laid out to make hooking up external devices more convenient.

It also comes with both VGA and HDMI ports so it’s possible to hook up two displays to the nettop.

Also, with the HDMI port users can pipe the built-in 7.1 channel audio to an external display without the need for extra cables.

Powerful specs

Interestingly, the Revo series of nettops come with the new nVidia ION chipset, which offers a number of advantages over the common Intel D945G chipset.

The platform is supposed to be able to run Windows Vista and 3D games, decode videos and, most importantly, handle high-definition videos with ease... at least in theory.

However during our tests, we were both surprised and ­disappointed with the system performance. For instance, the system took quite a long time to boot up.

At least, once it started up, the Aero Glass and Flip3D interfaces worked smoothly, and we had no problem performing basic ­computing stuff like ­wordprocessing and web ­surfing.

There are times, though — even with nVidia’s GeForce 9400M graphics and 4GB of memory onboard — the system felt sluggish.

It was more prevalent when we ran too many applications ­simultaneously and also when browsed Flash-heavy websites such as YouTube.

We suspect it is due to either the relatively pedestrian Atom 230 processor or the Windows Vista operating system which is a big resource hog.

Also, most Flash web videos don’t support hardware graphics ­acceleration offered by the nVidia chip so the processor needs to handle all the workload all by itself. HD experience

To handle all types of video files, the machine comes preinstalled with Cyberlink’s PowerDVD 9.

Overall, it handled standard movie files, such as the Apple MOV format, effortlessly,

Also, the machine is supposed to be able handle Blu-ray movies but we couldn’t get hold of an external Blu-ray drive so we couldn’t test this.

PowerDVD 9 doesn’t support the popular HD format, MKV. To play HD files we downloaded the free KMplayer.

Unfortunately, the video playback wasn’t as smooth as we expected, and we got inconsistent results.

Some MKV videos played smoothly, while others went out of sync with the audio, and a few simply failed to load.

Again we believe the culprit might be the processor which isn’t a perfect companion for the ION chipset.

The good news is that even when the CPU and GPU are heavily taxed, the Revo remained quiet all the time.

The verdict

The Acer Revo has its share of hits and misses. There is a lot of ­potential for the Revo as it is based on the ION platform.

However, the inclusion of the low-power Atom processor and Windows Vista isn’t the perfect combo for the machine.

Also, the RM2,199 price tag doesn’t quite justify the ­performance that you get from the machine.

The Revo will be a much more attractive machine with a few more updates and a lower price tag.

Pros: Cool design; small ­footprint; handles many video formats; quiet.

Cons: Issues playing HD files; sluggish performance, pricey.


Nettop with a 23in LCD monitor

Processors: Intel Atom Processor N230 (1.6GHz /512K L2 Cache/533MHz FSB)

Chipset: nVidia ION

Graphics: nVidia GeForce 9400

Memory: 4GB DDR2 800MHz

Storage: 320GB hard drive

Operating System: Genuine Windows Vista Home Premium

Connectivity: WiFi, Ethernet, 56K V.92 modem

Keyboard and mouse: Wireless keyboard, optical mouse

I/O ports: six USB 2.0 ports, one eSATA port, VGA, HDMI audio out and microphone

Other features: Card reader, VESA mounting kit, 1.3-megapixel USB webcam, USB mini speaker, Kensington lock slot

Measurement (D x H X W): 180 x 180 x 30mm

Price: RM2,199


Review unit courtesy of Acer Sales And Services Sdn Bhd, 1-800-88-1288


10 November 2009

Create your own workspace

Working with a laptop in a compact space can be annoying. But that need not be the case thanks to the Targus Lap Chill Mat ­cooling pad and a foldable Compact Laptop Desk.

These accessories allow users to create their own workspace wherever they go, according to the company.

The Lap Chill Mat is made from a soft neoprene material for better cushioning and it also comes built-in with two fans.

The fans provide a constant airflow and ventilation to efficiently disperse the heat produced by the laptop. Also, four rubber stops on the top surface prevent the laptop from slipping.
Compact Laptop Desk

Meanwhile, the Compact Laptop Desk doesn’t come with any built-in fans and instead has a vented surface for better air flow to keep the laptop cool.
It can be used either in a folded position or completely unfolded flat for extra space to, say, use a mouse.

The Compact Laptop Desk has a very thin profile and because it’s foldable, it will easily fit in a laptop bag so you can lug it along.

The Lap Chill Mat and Compact Laptop Desk retail for RM189.90 and RM129 ­respectively

08 November 2009

Rent HD movies and PS3 games

RENT IT: Chan's online rental service boasts a variety of
PlayStation3 games and Blu-ray movies.

KUALA LUMPUR: Do you have a long list of Blu-ray movies to watch and PlayStation3 games to play but not keen on spending so much money? Maybe you can rent them to save cost.

Check out Blackmango Games, an online videogame and movie rental service that lets users rent PlayStation3 games and Blu-ray movies.

The rental service is the brainchild of Ben Chan, an avid videogame and movie enthusiasts who started the service in 2007.

“I came up with the idea after not being able to find any local game rental service,” he said.

“There are a lot of hardcore gamers who complete a game in a day or two and move on to the next. Because games cost a lot, it makes more sense for them to rent,” he said.

Chan, who first started his virtual store on forum, has since expanded the service to a dedicated website ( where customers can view the list of games and movies they wish to rent.

There are many subscription packages. For instance, the Hardcore Gamer package costs RM50 a month and entitles the subscriber to rent one game or movie at any one time. You can hold on to the title as long as you like or exchange it for another as many times as you wish.

The game will be delivered to you by Chan or dispatched via mail depending on your location.
Chan is planning on upgrading his website to allow subscribers to pick the titles they wish to rent online. — CHONG JINN XIUNG

07 November 2009

Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Android Phone

Actually Sony Ericsson was supposed to reveal Xperia X3 or the Rachel smartphones as the company’s first Android handsets. But currently, the plan has been changed. Sony is now planning to launch Xperia X10.
This cool gadget will probably be released by February next year. This phone is super flat and features a large display screen about 4 inches, an 8 megapixel camera, SUPA 3G connectivity, Bluetooth 2.1, WiFi 802.11b/g and A-GPS connectivity.
This phone is very light and very speedy. This is a great gadget to look out for. It will be in the markets very soon and I am sure that many of you out there are waiting to grab your phone.