February 17, 2010
| by Stephen Hopkins
It’s tough to think of many hardware solutions less expensive than the this Acer AX1301 PC I recently found.
But there are capable devices out there, including this Acer Aspire Revo AR1600 for $170 from Tiger Direct.
With an Atom N230 processor, 1GB RAM, and 160GB hard drive, it seems about as low-rent as PC hardware can be. The magic is in the Nvidia ION graphics chipset that allows hardware decoding of HD video content up to 1080p. With ION graphics doing the brunt of the work, the rest of the PC hardware is barely taxed.
At $170 refurbished from Tiger Direct, it’s easy to foresee this little box showing up in several rooms around the house, running the same HTPC Front End software as the main server.
With the right software, an Acer AX1301 and multiple Revo AR1600 clients can do the work of a Kaleidescape Mini System and multiple Mini 1080p Players at around 5 percent of the price. Oh, and these handle HD content as well.
Stephen Hopkins is chief technology editor for EH Publishing. He writes product reviews, features, and focuses heavily on 3D TV, iPhone and iPad apps, and digital content.