Saturday, June 18, 2011

Acer Aspire Revoview RV100

This is the new guy in the city, or at least at my place.

For our video media needs we were relying in the appleTV 1st generation but without too much general satisfaction. In our home there are Mac and PCs trying to live in mutual peace, something that according to everyone should be very easy but which we never totally managed to organize.
Any way, our appleTV was only able to communicate with the Mac computer as the PCs were not able to see/detect it.
Therefore all our video media was first synchronized to the appleTV by the Mac, then just streamed. The problem was the limited video formats that the appleTV is able to reproduce.
After considering some other possibilities, such as jailbreaking the appleTV or even to install linux on it (a friend, linux freak, managed to boot the dammed thing and we were able to load something called MythTV) we started searching for an alternative.
Two options were into consideration: a new computer, a mini-PC, not a Mac-mini, with HDMI connectivity or a multimedia player.
At the end we decided to look for multimedia player and we found this little friend here on sale for less than 150€ and a very detailed review thereof (RV100 Review), however the webpage of Acer is strangely silent about the device.
Two days ago we got it.
The cited review is 100% true, to every detail. The thing comes with 2Tb and a Wifi adapter.
The disk can be extracted and connected to another Acer computer. I don't know if it will be possible to connect it to any computer, maybe with some adapter or similar.
The Wifi USB stick which comes with the machine seems to be according to the user manual the only one which will work on the device, so if it gets broken, damaged or lost, you will need to buy a new one from Acer (if that is possible).
The interface of the disk is a bit slow and clumsy.
First, when another disk, for example, a portable hard disk, is connected to the Acer, the multimedia player scans totally the connected disk to make the library of its contain. This is nice as the Acer detects all the video, pictures and audio in the connected disk, but painfully slow. Nice thing is that you can watch the videos while the scan is performed, so not such a big deal, but anyway a bit anoying.
The interface has a main menu wherein a Video, a Pictures, a Music and a Devices options are presented. The video option gives you access to all the video in the system but as individual files, so no distribution by movies, TVseries, seasons and so on. The same applies to Pictures and Audio. Everything is mixed there as individual files, but sorted by date or name and with search function. So, it is functional, but not fantastic. Clumsy.
The Devices button takes you to a menu wherein you see a Network, a UPnP, a HDD and the free USB options (the machine has two USB but one is blocked by the Wifi adapter).
The Acer can connected to the network and will integrate with any windows PCs under the Network sub-menu. Only problem we found here was that the PC under Windows 7 was having only one user, which was, of course, the administrator and the Acer did not wanted to recognize it. Just creating a second user, normal one, solved the issue.
The Acer is at the moment not able to see the Mac under the Network sub-menu.
However, the UPnP sub-menu detects automatically the PCs. No problem here, only the headache of trying to understand the Windows media something which runs in the PCs and which is responsible for the UPnP connectivity. The file structure of the library is not evident. However, streaming is as simple as selecting the file on the PC, right click and selecting play on Acer.
The Mac is again invisible under UPnP, but if XBMC (XBoxMediaCenter) is running in the Mac, then the Acer will see and be able to access the Mac library.
So, either under Network or under UPnP, the Acer seems to be able to access (wireless) to the Mac and the PC and read or copy the data on them. This can be done from the Acer interface.
Streaming form the PC to the Acer is easy and simple.
However, neither the PCs nor the Mac seems to be able to access (wireless) to the hard disk of the Acer.
According to the User Manual, this should be possible either by extracting the Acer hard disk and connecting it to the computer or by connecting the computer to the Acer with a USB cable (there is a mini USB port in the back part of the Acer).
In the sub-menu HDD on Devices we can copy the data either from a computer or from a external hard disk by a very crude interface which does not allow to create folders or rename file. Only to move or to copy something. Therefore it can be a good idea either to organize the external hard disk in a way that makes sense for you and copy the file structure into the Acer or access the Acer from a computer with an USB an make the file structure directly in the Acer (we have not tried it yet).
At this moment, it seems to me a good machine, with plenty of storage space, several ways to integrate with a windows environment, a very limited integration with a Mac (wireless), but with the standard wired options to communicate.
Quality of video and Audio is good, however our old HDMI cable was not good enought, the image was shacking. However, a brand new cable is provided with the device which works perfectly.
In general, a very nice, rounded hardware, with a slow and a bit clumsy software, but full of interesting possibilities.
By the way, anyone interested in a 1st generation appleTV ?
(just kidding)


Sergiux said...

Next time, you can try "Popcorn Hour A-210". It is one of the best gadget for your TV. It is 100% compatible with Mac (Bonjour Protocol, Samba) and Windows (UPnP, Windows Media Connect). Software includes Bittorrent program to download films, music and more. Support many media formats and internet apps. It is very easy to use and you can find more models with many options (BD, HDD, WiFi, ...).
Other option are WD TV Live Hub (by Western Digital) or Xtreamer (other brand which build this type of gadgets)


Anonymous said...

can you format and install XBMC on it?

Ariano said...

To Anonymous:
Sorry. I have no idea.
Maybe it is possible as the system seems to be a kind of linux, so probably there is way to manipulate or crack it, but it is well outside of my expertise.