I’m in the market for a new HTPC to replace a homebuilt system from a couple of years ago. Lucky, there are two great, very affordable systems that just came out for the 2009 holiday season. I’ve compared them both below with my thoughts.
|Acer Aspire Revo||Dell Zino HD|
|Price (as configured)||$329||$329|
The Dell is configurable, whereas the Revo is not. I chose the below specifications for the Dell that I thought would make for a useful comparison.
|Model #||AR3610-U9012||Inspiron 400|
|Operating System||Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit||Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit|
|Processor||Intel Atom 330(1.6GHz) 1MB L2||AMD Athlon™ 2850e (512K, L2, 1.8GHz)|
|Memory||2GB DDR2 800||2GB DDR2 800|
|Hard Drive||160GB 5400RPM SATA||250GB 7200RPM SATA|
|Graphics||Integrated NVIDIA ION||Integrated ATI Radeon HD3200|
|Audio||High-Definition Audio Support||Integrated 2.1|
Both processors and integrated graphics chips are unexciting, but should work for HD playback. In addition to the size of the HDD, the hard drive speed makes a notable difference when surfing through home theater software menus.
When will these guys get it? The FIRST thing a TV system needs is a remote control. Why not include an IR receiver?
|Optical Drive||None||8X DVD+/-RW|
Dell has a DVD drive, Acer doesn't. I guess that what you get for having a bigger box. Dell even has the option to upgrade to Blu-Ray, but I'm skeptical if this machine could really handle BR playback.
|Speaker||USB Stereo Speakers||None|
Speakers are not a big deal if you are running your audio through the HDMI port to your TV. It's nice that Acer included a wireless keyboard, but I have found that "wireless" just isn't enough. To surf while leaning back on a couch 10 feet away, you really need a Bluetooth keyboard.
|Video Output||1 VGA, 1 HDMI||1 VGA, 1 HDMI|
At some point Dell with add the option for a TV tuner, which could be a deal breaker for the Acer. Then again, it would cost additional money, and usb TV tuners are widely available.
|Dimensions||7.10" x 1.20" x 7.10"||7.8" x 7.8" x 3.4"|
|Weight||9.00 lbs.||3.53 lbs.|
I see the Dell is going after the popular, Apple-like square box. But smaller is better, period. Why does the Acer weigh so much more though? I don't get it.
OVERALL WINNER: DELL
While l love the somewhat smaller form factor of the Aspire Revo and I'd like to test the range of the wireless keyboard and mouse, the Dell's optical drive and faster hard drive allow it to edge out the win.