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Acer AspireRevo w/XBMC

post #1 of 1982
Thread Starter 
There were a couple of other threads started about the Acer and one about the ION platform in general, but the title of the Acer threads wasn't quite ideal or specific to running XBMC so I figured I'd start a new thread with the idea that this might become the "official" thread for the Acer AspireRevo running XBMC. There's also a very long thread about XBMC here, but it covers a variety of hardware which can run XBMC, including everything from classic XBox's (which can't decode high-bitstream 720P/1080P content), to AppleTV's (which are in a similar boat capability-wise), to pricey computers running XBMC.

There are many, like me, who have enjoyed the pleasures of XBMC running on a classic XBox. It offers great usability combined with a great price. What it has lacked is the ability to handle high-bitrate HD content. There's a lot of discussion lately about the latest crop of standalone low-cost streamers, including the Asus O!Play, brite-view CinemaTube, WDTV (and upcoming WDTV Live), Seagate Theater+, Egreat 34A, and Popcorn Hour units, etc. Users who have bought some of the lower-cost models are now finding that they have various issues, with lack of bitstream support for DTS-HD/Dolby TrueHD being a biggie. And in all cases, the UI leaves a lot to be desired.

So with all of that said, let's talk about the Acer AspireRevo. I haven't purchased one yet, but I'm about to pull the trigger. I'm most interested in the least expensive model currently available in the US. At only $200, it's above the price of the classic XBox, the Asus O!Play, and the likely price of the WDTV Live. But it's less expensive than the Popcorn Hour, and the mature, skinnable XBMC UI has a lot going for it.

Many have criticized the AspireRevo for only being a single-core processor with only 1GB of RAM. The CPU/graphics chipset combo does not do well with some streaming media like YouTube and Hulu. But the graphics chipset can handle high-bitrate 1080P content with minimal CPU load. There are people who are upgrading the RAM, but I haven't yet determined what, if any, benefit that offers for people using this as an XBMC machine (I suspect they're upgrading it more for desktop PC benefits). My opinion is that if it isn't *necessary* and doesn't add any real benefit for streaming media, improving the responsiveness of the XBMC UI, etc., then I'd prefer to do without it and keep the price down. In my case, I need to have multiple rooms in my house equipped, so the lower the price, the better.

The stock unit comes with Windows XP Home, a wired keyboard, and a mouse. There is an HDMI port, but no optical/coax audio out (I haven't determined if one of the mini-audio outputs can be configured as an audio coax out). I believe that it has a fan but is reported to be very quiet. It also has an SD slot. Lastly, it has a 160GB hard drive (which is useful in arguing its "value" as compared to some of the low-cost streamers, but is probably of little value for those of us who only need to use this as a streaming client). It does not come with an infrared sensor, so you'll need to add a separate USB infrared sensor for that, which is a shame since it will add some kludginess to the otherwise small unit.

To run XBMC at its best, from what I've read, you will not want to run the Windows version of XBMC, but rather the Linux or XBMC Live version, the latter of which can be installed on a USB stick or SD card.

I am still trying to confirm whether this can bitstream Dolby TrueHD/DTS-HD, but from what I've read so far, I believe that if there is an issue with that, that it is with the current version of XBMC (i.e., a software issue, and not a hardware issue).

Here are a few links to get interested folks started:

If you're not already familiar with XBMC, you'll want to take a look at this site and the forums within it.

This is a "How-To" thread discussing installing XBMC on the AspireRevo. Note that the poster discusses upgrading the RAM, but doesn't explain why that's necessary. He also uses an external USB DVD-ROM drive to install XBMC, but that "shouldn't" be necessary. If I end up getting one of these, I'll replace this link with step-by-step directions in this thread for installing XBMC on this device.

So let's get the discussion and Q&A going! Anyone with an AspireRevo (or an ION device of another sort) with XBMC, please jump in with what you love or hate about this platform.

Instructions for using XBMC for Windows (XP) in conjunction with Media Player Classic - Home Cinema:

Note: When adding sources (or if you're an XBMC "old timer" and you already have a sources.xml file), you'll need to map your drives as letters under Windows XP and refer to them by letter/path in your sources.xml file, as opposed to using SMB sharing. This is necessary because of how external player support and/or MPC-HC works.

1) Go into your BIOS settings. Change the GPU memory allocation to 256MB (Optional: If you upgrade your box to 1.5GB or more, you can up this to 512MB).

2) Optional: Uninstall unnecessary apps on XP.

3) Update XP to get the latest updates.

4) *** Update: Ignore this step for now. Many have had problems after upgrading to the latest drivers. I'm leaving the details here as a placeholder and for anyone wishing to experiment. ***
Update your NVIDIA drivers. Note: this may or may not be necessary, and as of 12/6/2009, the latest graphics drivers will break the NVIDIA high-def audio, so you don't want those. Version 195.55 is known to work, and you can get that here. Here are the versions of all NVIDIA-related drivers that I'm currently running successfully:
- Display adapters / NVIDIA ION LE
- Driver version:, dated: 9/27/2009
* Note: this is known by NVIDIA as v195.55.

- IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers / NVIDIA nForce Serial ATA Controller
- Driver version:, dated: 6/30/2009

- Network adapters / NVIDIA nForce 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet
- Driver version:, dated: 7/1/2009

- NVIDIA Network Bus Enumerator
- Same driver information as previous

- Sound, video and game controllers: NVIDIA High Definition Audio
- Driver version:, dated: 8/21/2009
5) Install Media Center Edition Remote / Keyboard drivers. You can find a link to them here.

6) Install XBMC Camelot Beta 1 for Windows from the official site.

7) Install (MPC-HC) Media Player Classic - Home Cinema.

8) You will need to make changes to your playercorefactory.xml file (located under C:\\Program Files\\XBMC\\System) so that it will launch MPC-HC for high-def movie file formats (e.g., .ts, .m2ts, .mkv). Make a backup copy of this file, and replace the contents of playercorefactory.xml with the following (Note: Leave out the MountAndPlay section if you don't want to use MPC-HC for playing standard-def DVD .ISO files and the MountAndPlayBlu section if you don't need the ability to play back Blu-ray .ISO files):

      C:\\Program Files\\MPC HomeCinema\\mpc-hc.exe
      /fullscreen /close "{1}"
If you *do* want to play .ISO files through MPC-HC, you'll need to first download and install SlySoft's Virtual CloneDrive.

Then, create a directory named C:\\XBMC_Extras. For standard-def DVD .ISO file compatibility, create a .bat file named MountAndPlay.bat within this directory. Cut and paste the following code into this file:
"C:\\Program Files\\Elaborate Bytes\\VirtualCloneDrive\\VCDMount.exe" /d=0 %1
"C:\\Program Files\\MPC HomeCinema\\mpc-hc.exe" E: /fullscreen /play /close
"C:\\Program Files\\Elaborate Bytes\\VirtualCloneDrive\\VCDMount.exe" /d=0 /u
For Blu-ray .ISO compatibility, create a .bat file named MountAndPlayBlu.bat and cut/paste the following code into this file:
"C:\\Program Files\\Elaborate Bytes\\VirtualCloneDrive\\VCDMount.exe" /d=0 %1
ping -n 2 > NUL
"C:\\Program Files\\MPC HomeCinema\\mpc-hc.exe" "e:\\BDMV\\index.bdmv" /fullscreen /play /close
"C:\\Program Files\\Elaborate Bytes\\VirtualCloneDrive\\VCDMount.exe" /d=0 /u
9) Configure your audio. If you have a 5.1 A/V receiver that you're connecting the Revo to via HDMI, within XBMC, under System / Settings / System / Audio Hardware, set things as follows:
Audio Output: Digital
- Dolby Digital (AC3) capable receiver:
- DTS Capable receiver:
Audio output device: NVIDIA High Definition Audio
Downmix multichannel audio to stereo:

Or, if you are connecting the Revo to an LCD/plasma TV over HDMI, set them as follows:
Audio Output: Digital
- Dolby Digital (AC3) capable receiver:
- DTS Capable receiver:
Audio output device: NVIDIA High Definition Audio
Downmix multichannel audio to stereo:

Note: These settings will only apply to audio for movies you playback through XBMC. Movies that gets played back through MPC-HC will require setting the audio settings appropriately through MPC-HC (to do: add instructions for that).

10) Create a text file named advancedsettings.xml and put it in your C:\\Documents and Settings\\[YourUserNameHere]\\Application Data\\XBMC\\userdata directory. Put the following in this file (this will allow XBMC to be given focus back after exiting out of MPC-HC):

11) Enable wake-on-USB support (so you can put it in/out of Standby mode with your remote control):
a) Run regedit.
b) Create a new key under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\\SYSTEM\\CurrentControlSet\\Services\\ named "usb" (sans quotes)
c) Under that, create the following two variables, both of type DWORD (the default values of all zeroes is what you want):
d) Reboot.
post #2 of 1982
Can't wait for the review. I have been back and forth on which media player to get for my new house setup and have just started to look at the Revo as an option.
post #3 of 1982
I have been following the Revo threads on XBMC too. I have been wanting one, but I do not have a receiver that has HDMI inputs. I have been wondering if any of the USB to Toslink or S/PDIF adapters work.
post #4 of 1982
One of my concerns using the Revo AR1600 at Newegg that is comes with one stick of 1GB RAM. I have read that VDPAU needs RAM running in dual channel mode for necessary bandwidth, which would explain people dropping in another 1GB stick. Regarding the spdif, it does not have one built in. People have reported success using a usb-spdif adapter.
post #5 of 1982
I thought it had more to do with having the available RAM to alot 512 MB to the onboard video, which with the Zotac board requires you to have 2GB of ram installed.

This may not be the case, as I dont own a Revo, but my Zotac IONITX-B-E runs fine with a single 2GB stick of RAM, but I also have the cpu overclocked to 2 GHz.
post #6 of 1982
Thread Starter 
Well, I just placed my order, so if all goes well I'll have it before the weekend. I've seen posts by several people who have stuck with the stock 1GB configuration and claim to have no problems playing high-def content. One person (prae5 in the xbmc.org forums) just PM'd me to tell me that the Killa sample drops a couple of frames at the very beginning, but otherwise runs fine and that he's had no problems playing any of his other content.
post #7 of 1982
I was under the impression it had to do with allocating ram for the onboard gpu too.
post #8 of 1982
Thread Starter 
I've certainly read that as well. Specifically, I've read that there's a BIOS setting where you set how much RAM to allocate for that, and you're limited to 256MB or 512MB (I forget which) if you only have 1GB of RAM, but can go higher if you have 2GB of RAM. But, again, I've also read from several people with only 1GB who have stated that their boxes have handled high-bitrate 1080P just fine.
post #9 of 1982
Are you going for XBMC Linux or Live?

(BTW, the only posters I have seen that claim to have True-HD working are the ones using XBMC for windows)
post #10 of 1982
Thread Starter 
I was going to go with the simplest approach initially, which I believe will be XBMC Live installed on an SD card (I'm not sure of the storage requirements of that, but I think I have a fairly large SD card lying around somewhere). Once I played with it for a bit like that, I would probably look to install Live or Linux on the hard drive. I'm honestly not familiar with either of these yet - is there even such a thing as "installing" Live on a hard drive or is it only meant to boot off of a USB key (or in this case, an SD card)?
post #11 of 1982
You should be able to install from any use of live. Whether its usb or cd.
post #12 of 1982
Are you going to be playing your media locally or through a network?
post #13 of 1982
XBMC Live works great, except when it doesn't. Because the live install has no UI outside XBMC itself, changing system settings and fixing problems can be a real pain. It's worth trying, but if you run into any problems, it's far easier to do a full linux install with XBMC on top then it is to troubleshoot Live.
post #14 of 1982
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by taje View Post

Are you going to be playing your media locally or through a network?

I may intially test it out by connecting my external hard drive directly to the Revo, but once I've confirmed that's working (i.e., playing high-bitrate content without issues) I will be hooking the hard drive back up to my NAS (which is currently an HP Slimline desktop computer running 24/7), and connecting this Revo up via 100 Mbps ethernet.

And once I've confirmed that *that's* working, I'll try hooking up the Revo in a more distant room of my house which is currently connected by way of Powerline network adaptor (one of the newer ones that claims speeds up to 200Mbps but likely doesn't get anywhere near that).
post #15 of 1982
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by candre23 View Post

XBMC Live works great, except when it doesn't. Because the live install has no UI outside XBMC itself, changing system settings and fixing problems can be a real pain. It's worth trying, but if you run into any problems, it's far easier to do a full linux install with XBMC on top then it is to troubleshoot Live.

Are the docs on XBMC's main site sufficient for that (and do they include a download for a full Linux install?) or will I need additional resources to figure that all out? Again, I have no Linux experience (well, a recently purchased Dell Mini Netbook has Ubuntu, I think, on it, but I haven't played with that much).
post #16 of 1982
There are lots of threads on the XBMC Forums....

It will be interesting to see how much troiuble you have to hack this stuff and get it working....

my patience was about 4 hours...

since then I have been too busy on work related projects to have time to deal with this....

I will wait for the next release and hopefully try again.... I figured HDMI audio support on linux was 1/2 baked and I was right. I had no idea HDMI video was also in bad shape too....

different people have different expectations.... and different definitions of what is considered working...

post #17 of 1982
Thread Starter 
Sean, what HDMI-related video problems are you having?
post #18 of 1982
wrong video mode: requires hack
wrong video framerate: requires hack
static cursor in the middle of screen after restore: requires hack

These are all known and documented....

every 4-5 of reboots of XBMC Live I get no video. XBMC is running but the x-server fails to start....

no known solution on this one as of yet. Doesn't seem to happen connected straight to the TV but does with my onkyo 876 in the loop....

and those are just the video problems.. .The audio issues are far more prevelant...

have fun

post #19 of 1982
You can get an Ubuntu install disc from here. Instructions for installing the latest XBMC are here. If you do want to give Live a try, there are step-by-step instructions for installing it on the Revo and making the necessary HDMI-related changes here.
post #20 of 1982
Curious Candre?

do you own one of these ION rigs with XBMC?

Whats your expierences?

post #21 of 1982
Originally Posted by sean_w_smith View Post

do you own one of these ION rigs with XBMC?

No. I did a lot of research though, as I was seriously considering either the Asrock or Revo for a while. Ended up going with an Apple TV instead, but not before trying out both XBMC Live and XBMC under Ubuntu on another machine for a while to see how I liked it. Had I known the Revo was going to start shipping in the US for only $200, I may have waited for it. Still, I have no complaints about the ATV.
post #22 of 1982
Thread Starter 
Woohoo, looks like it should arrive today! I ordered yesterday morning (around 10AM EST), selected Rush Order processing ($2.99) to try to guarantee that it would ship out the same day, and chose the UPS 2nd Day shipping ($19.01 to my location). Was expecting it to arrive tomorrow (if they shipped out the same day), but it's on the truck for delivery today.

I'm wondering if I should try XBMC for Windows first (for simplicity sake, since the Revo comes with XP Home installed). I read on the XBMC forums from someone that XBMC for Windows lacks hardware acceleration support. Is that still true? Are there plans to add it? Are there other issues I'd run into?
post #23 of 1982
@srauly according to the xbmc forums there is no intent to add GPU acceleration to their windows offering. You would need to use MPC HT for video acceleration in windows. It comes with a good size HDD, so you can setup a dual boot system with xp and ubuntu and have xbmc installed on ubuntu to have GPU acceleration.
post #24 of 1982
Thread Starter 
Thanks. Do you think it would make sense to set it up as a dual-boot so that a Linux newb like me could edit the files/settings on the Linux partition from XP, or am I probably making Linux out to be harder to use than it is?

I'm a computer programmer and took a UNIX/C course way back when in college, have worked within the Windows DOS prompt, and did plenty of stuff via the CLI prompt when I was an Amiga user, so I'm sure I can probably get up to speed on Linux, and would probably be better off if I did.
post #25 of 1982
The easiest thing for you to do, at least to try things out, is to use Wubi. It allows you to install one of the official Ubuntu versions on a virtual partition without having to actually repartition your drive. Installation is through Windows, and if you don't like it, you can uninstall it like any other program.
post #26 of 1982
Thread Starter 
Just a quick note for anyone who may be anxiously awaiting my updates. I work so I couldn't play with it much during the day, other than to hook it up to my TV via HDMI (for video and sound), boot into XP, complete some of the XP first-time startup configurations, and begin uninstalling much of the crapware that came preinstalled.

Per a suggestion from CrashX on the XBMC forums, I think my first step is actually going to be to install Media Player Classic with the klite codec pack, just so I can test out playing a couple of high-def files (for some instant gratification).

Then I'll take a closer look at Wubi as well as this pendrivelinux.com Ubuntu install that CrashX also recommended. candre23, do you know anything about that?
post #27 of 1982
I'd just use XBMC-Live.

Alternately, you can use http://xbmc.org/forum/showthread.php?t=57764 on top of a minimal ubuntu 9.04 install.

In both cases, just read what you're doing before you do it. Also, the SVN version is highly recommended for use with Ion. There are plenty of guides on xbmc.org regarding updating XBMC-Live to SVN, or you could choose to use the script above, which has support built in.
post #28 of 1982
Any idea when the next official release is scheduled to come out?

post #29 of 1982
Tail end of November
post #30 of 1982
Thanks Motd2k...

Very excited to see all these fixes and newer drivers get bundeled up into a new XBMC live that wont require hacking for the ION. I would love to deliver a few of these ION platforms for xmas presents....

I really appreciate all the work all you guys put into this. I have built over 100 softmod xboxes for friends and family over the years. Actually did 6 in the last month alone for newbies who dont care about HD. Having Movie and music servers is a big deal for most non geeks..... Me personally between 2 houses have 11 xboxes, 1 ATV, 1 ASUS Netbook running XP, 2 MacMini's and an ION rig (not exactly working to my satisfaction yet) all running XBMC. been a user since it was XBMP. love it.

keep up all the great work.....

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