back to article Acer Revo One RL85: A pint-sized PC for the snug

Acer has produced a number of small form factor systems over recent years, and the Revo One RL85 is the latest incarnation. It's designed very much as a home PC, and comes in an upright enclosure that's about two thirds the size of a shoebox – 106.6mm square and 155mm tall – but still manages to pack a fair bit inside. Not the …

  1. ISP

    Hmm, wonder what the basic one would be like with Kodi, my Zotac zbox is sounding a bit wheezy.

    1. future research

      An ECS liva ( only from maplins in the UK for £130) is probably more cost effective at £130. even a Raspberry pi 2 can handle Kodi.

      I am waiting for a mythtv to use the hardware decoding of the rapsberrypi.

      The Acer Revo One RL85, has them same problem as a NUC. They seem to be overpriced for what they are when a chrome book tends to be the same price, but includes a builtin screen, keyboard, mouse and battery (UPS).

      1. Nigel Whitfield.

        Horses for courses, really: the ECS liva is certainly cost effective if you're putting a free OS on it. Add a kosher copy of Windows though, and it's a lot closer to the price of the basic RL85 - though certainly the i5 model is a lot less favourably priced, in my view.

        1. ISP

          Kodibuntu on the zbox (dual core atom with Nvidia Ion) has always worked for me. Reasonably happy to continue with that, and the Liva looks like a likely candidate. Thanks.

          Wouldn't mind giving the Pi a go for it but have had previous reports of the UI being a bit sluggish. That was a while ago admittedly might all be good now. Maybe rescue the nephew's one if he's gotten bored of it for testing.

          If I really wanted to be cheap I saw a 2nd hand NowTV box the other day for buttons, hack Plex client on that and call it quits...

          1. future research

            "Wouldn't mind giving the Pi a go for it but have had previous reports of the UI being a bit sluggish. That was a while ago admittedly might all be good now. Maybe rescue the nephew's one if he's gotten bored of it for testing."

            The Raspberry Pi 2 has more memory 1GB, and a faster processor, user reports state it is not as slow. It is even capable of running windows 8.1

            1. James Hughes 1

              " It is even capable of running windows 8.1". Er, not really. It will run WIN10IoT, but not 8.1.

              That said the Pi2 is easily capable of running Kodi, and much faster than Pi1 (which I used to run Kodi, and found it OK as well)

            2. Richard Plinston

              > The Raspberry Pi 2 ... It is even capable of running windows 8.1

              There is no version of Windows 8.x or RT that will run on Raspberry Pi. Windows 10 IoT will run (on a Pi2 but not on a Pi1) but it is not the Windows 10 that you are thinking of. It has no OS user interface - no launcher, no icons, no menu system, no way of choosing an application. On booting it will start the single Universal App that has been loaded onto the SD card. This app may, or may not, provide its own UI depending on what it has been written to do.

              A full Windows 10 PC is required to develop and load the app to the RPi2. The only reason that you would write an app for a RPi2 (or other IoT board) is to access the GPIO (or an attached Arduino or similar if you need analogue) and thus the app would not be useful on any other type of Windows. It is similarly unlikely to be useful to run non-IoT apps on a RPi2.

          2. Johndoe132

            I've just replaced a rather noisy Acer Revo 70 with a Pi 2b to run Kodi and it works an absolute dream. The navigation is very snappy and by switching from Samba to NFS shares on the media server streaming 1080p video over a 10/100 LAN is super smooth.

            I picked up the Pi kit on an amazon flash sale for £40 and included the Pi, case, 8Gb SD card with NOOBS pre installed, power supply and all the cables. Installation was very easy; just connect to the net, select OpenElec or OSMC from the NOOBS menu (I went with the latter) and the rest is taken care of for you.

            I would say that if all you need is something small and quiet to run Kodi then this is a great value option. Plus the Pi consumes just a few watts of power and I believe can even run off the USB ports of some TVs so very low on running cost.

            1. ISP

              I'd forgotten about the Pi update. That sounds like a great option. Already using NFS for sharing anyway. The zbox didn't start out noisy but is definitely becoming arthritic.

              Have to double check if lirc and the MCE remote receiver will play nice (should do) and that could be a winner.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Get a second hand Apple TV 2 off eBay for about £50. A copy of GreenPoison, 2 mins of button pushing, install KODI from repo and sorted! I have to two ATV2's in my house, one for us downstairs and one for the youngun' upstairs. Ours is open in all the stuff on the NAS boxes, youngun's is locked down tight and can only access the "clean" NAS.

    3. Salts

      You also have the HP Stream, can upgrade ram & disk and it has free sd card slot unlike RPi where you can't access the sd card and 1gb ethernet the RPi is limited there also. Nothing against the RPi I have 5 of them, just like the look of this for a kodi box.

      @AC can't find ATV2 for 50GBP

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "It's worth noting that, despite being a new unit, there was still 1.8GB of Windows updates to install before I could really begin using ours. If you live in an area with rubbish broadband, you may want to take it to a friend's house to do the updates."

    I don't mean to be picky, but I'm surprised it was deemed necessary to point that out. After all, that's the case with most new PCs (pretty rare that you buy a machine that hasn't had a few months elapsed since its drive was imaged), and it's hardly going to be the last problem that your rubbish broadband is going to cause you either.

    "Given that the primary connector for video on the back of the Revo One is HDMI, and the remote control that comes with it, it's a fair bet that many of these are going to end up connected to TV sets. It's a little annoying, then, that it's pretty fiddly to adjust the display in Windows."

    Curious what you found fiddly with that. Generally all you need to set in Windows is the reolution, to a resolution properly-supported by the TV, typically the native "recommended" resolution, then it should "just work".

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      Native resolution was indeed selected, but if you then want to adjust for overscan on your TV, you have to dig around in a control panel in a way that's a bit fiddly. It's simpler to just turn off overscan on the TV, but depending on the set, that may interfere with the display from other inputs.

      So, it would be handy to have a simple option to control this, readily accessible within Windows.

      1. Malcolm 1

        Why do we still have overscan? It sort of made sense in the analogue era but with a digital source and display I can't see the need for it at all - doesn't it just make everything a bit fuzzy?

        1. SImon Hobson Bronze badge

          > Why do we still have overscan?

          Because when all this new fangled digital stuff was being thought about, there was a lot of backwards compatibility baggage to load aboard - and a load of <insert preferred derogatory term> didn't think ahead far enough.

          The problem is that when the digital standards were first being created, CRT displays were still the norm - don't know if flat panel displays were around, but if they were, they were not the sort of thing many people would have. CRTs really need some overscan so you can have a nice clean edge - otherwise you get a fuzzy picture edge, and possibly various other things - ever seen the Teletext data "dots" creep in at the top of a badly adjusted TV ?

          Because of overscan, part of the image isn't viewable - there are specs for how much to assume is lost. So program makers will avoid putting anything "important" near the edges of the image - if you look carefully at a non-overscanned display you'll be able to see this effect (titles, credits, captions, important action - all away from the image edge).

          And because most content is made with the assumption of overscan, overscan persists as the default - and so the cycle goes around. IMO, now we have (in general) quite large displays, I don't think anything is lost by not chopping off the periphery - you still get all the detail and action, but a bit like Phillips Ambilight, you get that peripheral stuff adding to the immersiveness (assuming the content is good enough to draw you in that is !)

          But I am really surprised that someone with Nigel's knowledge would even consider trying to get Windows to compensate for overscan when the **ONLY** correct way is to disable it on the display. Of course, if you like looking at a fuzzy picture that's deliberately mangled to be worse than the display can do, then I suppose it would be correct to get the computer to fuzz it and then let the display fuzz it a bit more.

          Consider this ...

          The default is for the display to overscan. So you take your nice crisp high-res image and send it to the display - lets say it's full HD at 1920 x 1080. The first thing the display does is to throw away about 1/3 of that image, then resample what's left. So instead of generating a 1080 line image and displaying it as a 1080 line image, what you actually see is something in the order of 700 to 800 lines which has been upsampled to 1080 lines - and similarly for the horizontal resolution.

          For an "analogue" display like nicely rendered video, you won't notice - it's reckoned many people don't notice the difference between SD and HD channels on an HD set ! But for a computer desktop it's just flipping awful.

          Yes it's completely flipping stupid these days - but we have "backwards compatibility" to deal with.

          1. Nigel Whitfield.

            I tried it both ways, not because it didn't occur to me to fix it on the TV, but because there may well be quite a lot of ordinary punters who will assume that it's something on the PC end. In my view, it's these little things that computers should be making easier these days - and if not with explicit controls, then at least with some information that will point users in the right direction.

            There are other bits of kit I've set up that have a helpful part of the install wizard that will let you adjust the screen very easily. Given that the Start button is tucked right in the bottom left corner, if you have overscan turned on, it could be impossible for a punter to see it at all.

            "Hi there. Welcome to your new PC. We see you've connected it to a TV or similar display. If you can see a button like this in the bottom left corner, just click OK to continue. If you can't, click the help button for tips on how adjust your display"

            Not difficult, really, is it? Yes, perhaps I'm picky. But sometimes - see the stuff about user files below - I despair at how things that could help users, and surely aren't hard to do, are missed out, while we get plenty of other things thrown in, or changed around, for reasons that are at best unclear.

          2. lpcollier

            Just Scan

            Yes, absolutely. I think it's less about Windows having overscan turned on, and more that the 16:9 setting on most TVs automatically overscans despite being a totally irrational default for the past few years. Most TVs have a setting called "Just Scan" or something similar that just displays the incoming frames like a monitor would. My older LCD TV needs switching back to this mode every time the input is changed, which is really frustrating.

        2. Sandtitz Silver badge

          @Malcolm 1

          I have a 10-year old Sony rear-projection TV with HDMI input. While it's a 720p set, in reality it was something like 1190*650 or something like that and while that mattered little when watching films, it was annoying to not see the OS or application menus since they were located under the bezel. Custom resolution (or underscan) to the rescue then.

      2. Knacker_Ned

        Acer Revo One RL85 - my views

        I have an Acer Revo One RL85 connected to a TV and at first the overscan problem was really annoying. It took several days for me to realise the screen size could be easily reduced/enlarged using Intel's pre-installed graphics utility. My Revo One has a single 2TB HD with two 1TB partitions (now changed to my personal preference). Strangely, although there are three drive bays, only two appear to have SATA HD connectors attached to the motherboard. The SATA2 motherboard connector is missing, so I have no idea how I could connect a third SD/HD to the Revo should the need arise. Windows 8.1 runs fast enough, however I do occasionally receive Out Of Memory messages on returning to Windows after running Kodi for several hours. I simply close the message and everything is good again. I have found the Revo One to be very quiet in operation and Kodi runs fantastic. Even so, I'm sorely tempted to dump Windows 8.1 and install my favourite OS on the Revo One, which of course is Ubuntu.

    2. Roo

      Please don't be afraid to be picky Nigel ! :)

      "I don't mean to be picky, but I'm surprised it was deemed necessary to point that out."

      It may seem a bit picky, but I am glad it was mentioned because it can throw a spanner in the works if you're expecting to use the thing soon after you switch it on, particularly with some of the vulnerabilities floating around at the moment.

      I would have loved to know how much downloading I'd need to do after installing 8.1 on 3 boxes - I could have adjusted the kids' expectations about their chances of playing Minecraft before bedtime accordingly. It would have been nice to have had my expectations adjusted too - I am used to installing a fresh Linux distro image having it patched and ready to go in under 30 mins - downloading & installing the Win 8.1 updates took nearly 2 hours alone...

      EDIT: Kudos for trying out OpenBSD on it too, an unexpected pleasant surprise. :)

  3. JetSetJim

    Moving "users" folder

    WFT - the MS KB article linked states:

    "Caution Using the ProgramData setting to redirect folders to a drive other than the system volume will block your ability to upgrade to future versions of Windows.

    By changing the default location of the user profile directories or program data folders to a volume other than the system volume, you cannot service your Windows installation. Any updates, fixes, or service packs cannot be applied to the installation. We recommend that you do not change the location of the user profile directories or program data folders. "

    Not an impressive data storage architecture constraint after so many iterations of Windoze. Do Not Like :-(

    1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

      Re: Moving "users" folder

      Windows 10 does a better job of this than v8.x, though I can't get it to move applications as well. (There's a switch in Settings, but it's always greyed out.)

      1. SImon Hobson Bronze badge

        Re: Moving "users" folder

        > Windows 10 does a better job of this ...

        Does it still use things like "C:" to identify drives ? How very 1980s !

        1. Simon Harris

          Re: Moving "users" folder

          Using letters to refer to drives was inherited from CP/M, so I think you mean

          'How very 1970s!'

          CP/M - back when people used to dress like this ---------------------->

        2. GitMeMyShootinIrons

          Re: Moving "users" folder

          "Does it still use things like "C:" to identify drives ? How very 1980s !"

          If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Besides, there's nowt wrong with the 80's - Adam Ant, Ford Escort RS Turbo and only four TV channels.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Moving "users" folder

            "Ford Escort RS Turbo"

            Complete OT, but there was a fashion for them around here some years back till their young and not that intelligent owners found out what happened if when the turbocharger blew up due to lubrication issues, to wit, repairs cost several times what they paid for the cars. There was then a brief interlude of Subaru WRXs till the same thing happened.

            With a very, very few Teutonic exceptions, cars really were crap till the 1990s. It's just that our relentless advance into the future causes everything in the past to be viewed with a rose-tinted shift.

          2. Sarah Balfour

            Re: Moving "users" folder

            Adam Ant…?! Oh please - I sincerely hope you're being ironic…

    2. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: Moving "users" folder

      Indeed; it's a bit insane, isn't it? Of course, you can still point some of the 'special' folders like 'Photos' to another drive, without, as far as I can see, breaking the ability to update Windows.

      But the underlying restriction is bonkers. Frankly, I find it mystifying that Windows still expects users to know which physical device or partition something is stored on, and it's particularly silly when, as with the i5 here, you have a relatively small system SSD.

    3. Kubla Cant

      Re: Moving "users" folder

      I too skimmed through the MS KB article and thought "WTF?". Keeping the O/S, installed programs, and user data separate was a well-established practice back when MS-DOS was launched, but even now it still seems to be tricky and exotic for Microsoft.

      On a related topic, can anybody imagine why, when MS eventually decided to implement symlinks, they made it so you need Admin privilege to create them?

      1. dogged

        Re: Moving "users" folder

        The usual answer is not to use those directories.

        You can redirect "Documents" and the various media "libraries". That's probably all you need to do.

        1. Nigel Whitfield.

          Re: Moving "users" folder

          What would be really nice - and surely not beyond the wit of Microsoft - is for a brand new PC, during initial setup, to say something like "Hey, you've got a massive empty disk drive. Would you like all your user data to be stored there automatically (this makes it easier to backup and recover your PC)?"

          Yes, you can redirect the libraries. But long experience of other people's PCs has taught me two things:

          a) an awful lot of 'ordinary' people don't do this, and then wonder why they've run out of space

          b) I should be a lot more vague about what I do when people ask, so that I don't get invited to solve the problem in a)

        2. lpcollier

          Re: Moving "users" folder

          I try not to use Windows if possible, but last time I had to I'm pretty sure there was an option to add any folder to the Documents library which I thought actually worked rather well as a seamless way to see files from multiple locations in one place. I seem to remember it being a little more confusing when saving, but not much.

    4. Groaning Ninny

      Re: Moving "users" folder


      I have my admin and default user accounts on my SSD C: drive, and my actual user accounts on D:. No problem with updates etc on Win 8.

      Videos (all my rips etc) are on another larger drive, visible through the libraries.

      When I get a larger SSD I'll have all users on that, but keep the larger data areas (photos, music, videos) on the slower large drive, again visible though libraries.

  4. Joe Drunk

    Remote power on?

    I Googled and found only one other review which mentioned the power button on the remote was non-functional.

    I have been looking for an HTPC with built-in remote power on (not wake from sleep/hibernate mode, but full power on after I select 'SHUT DOWN' from start menu, just as if I'd hit the power button on the PC itself).

    There are plenty of hacks to convert any PC to remote power on, but does such a thing exist for any HTPC?

    1. Your alien overlord - fear me

      Re: Remote power on?

      How would you power it on if you'd powered it off? Get off your arse, walk to the telly and press a button? No thanks.

  5. Steve Graham


    The high-gloss white plastic of the shell is hideous. I know there's a fashion for Apple-like white objects but this design would have been laughed off the stage at Apple.

    1. Tromos

      Re: Fugly

      Agreed. It would stand out like a sore thumb in my living room. I'll bear it in mind should I ever need a PC for the toilet.

    2. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: Fugly

      At the launch, there was talk of some black ones, and I'm sure I've seen photos on the Acer site at some stage too. However, all that appears to be on offer now is the white.

  6. Mage Silver badge

    Hmm, it's a laptop, a netbook

    but without a real keyboard, or a screen. So should be cheap.

    I don't like white things. That was Ives copying Braun. OK in showroom, look rubbish after a few months use.

    Also some non-radio products.

  7. M. B.

    Max RAM...

    ...would be nice to know, I see 8GB listed but will it do 16? Also, is the SD card bootable? The SSD would make a fine flash read cache device to accelerate the VMs running on disks while booting vSphere from the SD card.


    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: Max RAM...

      Detailed spec sheet says 8GB, I'm afraid. That said, the original spec for my old MacBook Pro said 4GB, and it'll actually cope with 6.

      If I can find an SD card with something suitably esoteric and bootable on it, I'll give that a go for you.

  8. Zot

    Just buy this instead

    A Minix Neo. I bought a quad core windows 8.1 machine for £110, and it fits on the palm of my hand. Amazing. And I see there's an Android one for £59.

    I would use a keyboard and mouse with the Windows one, because their support for the AirMouse is terrible on Windows.

  9. armster

    What about the apple angle?

    So Acer can now charge more for a 'home' PC than Apple for the Mini? I find that very strange. Have people forgot about the mini, do they love Acer that much, or do they love windows that much?

    And the Mini has bluetooth built in.

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: What about the apple angle?

      Well, if you take the 2.4GHz i5 Mac Mini, that's £569 with 1TB of disk; that's the closest to the 2.2GHz of the Acer I5. But if you configure on the Apple site for a 1TB Fusion Drive, which is probably the way to get the same compromise of system on SSD and other storage on HD that the Acer has, then that's another £160, taking it up to £729. OK, it's still got a faster chip, and a smaller case, but less storage.

      If you pick the 1.4GHz Mac Mini as the base instead (£399), and then boost the memory to 8GB, and the hard drive from the 500GB to a 1TB Fusion drive, you come out at £679, for which you have a slightly slower chip, and less storage.

      2TB of internal storage isn't, presently, an option for build to order on the Mac Mini.

      Some people might prefer OS X and the look of the Mini. Other people might prefer the possibilities opened up by those two extra drive bays in the Acer.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bravo, ElReg

    > In short, if you want to buy one of these little boxes with a view to using it with something other than Windows, yes, you very likely can.

    And a special shout out for checking with OpenBSD as an extra challenge.

  11. Chris Evans

    Source of bare case or similar?

    Anyone know of a source of a bare case similar to this?

    I'd love to built a Raspberry Pi Compute module into one!

    n.b. I do realise I would have to design a suitable motherboard. small neat cases are hard to find especially at a reasonable price. Many MiniITX cases are over £100.

  12. zedthegreat


    Does anybody have experience if this runs quiet / loud? It could perform a NAS type function and second pc function in one, but would live in my bedroom.


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