The Acer Aspire X1920-UR20P is a poorly configured, overpriced budget desktop with little to recommend it. Look instead to Acer's Gateway subsidiary for better slim-tower options.
Not everyone wants a living-room computer, but the Acer Revo 100 is one of the better low-cost HTPCs we've seen thanks to a wisely chosen feature set, its attractive design, and a mostly well-conceived input device.
The internals remain the same, but Samsung's Chrome OS-powered budget PC gets a new look.
With or without its new Fusion hybrid drive, Apple finally has a Mac Mini that competes well against mainstream Windows PCs in the same price range.
Budget desktops might not be all that exciting, but the Gateway SX2870-UR10P slim tower shows you can still find a worthwhile day-to-day PC for under $500.
The Gateway SX2801-01e is just one of several new budget slim tower systems available this season. We're impressed by its compact design and the HDMI port makes it easy to use in the living room. For a $520 system, the SX2801-01e's performance and upgradability put it in the same top tier as the Editors' Choice-winning models that came before it, and we recommend it to anyone shopping for a powerful, flexible, cost-effective computer.
The Apple Mac Mini is an unquestioned winner among budget desktops, but HP has a small-form-factor PC whose feature set will woo many would-be Mac Mini buyers.
Apple's new Mac Mini includes an elegant new design and some long asked-for features, including HDMI output and user-accessible memory. The system still faces a value challenge for its given specs, but Apple has done enough to improve the Mac Mini's appeal for Apple loyalists and design fans looking for a living room computer.
The Acer Aspire X1200-U1520A is a speedy, compact, low-end desktop that's powerful enough to serve as a light-duty home theater PC. Expansion is limited by an especially cramped interior (even for a small PC), but the total package is worthwhile for PC shoppers on a budget.
Sony's distinctive, midrange VAIO TP1 Living Room PC trades performance and features for its cutesy appearance. Unless you really like the looks of this Roomba-like PC you can find a much better deal from a variety of standard desktop PCs.
The attractive, fairly priced Samsung Chromebox desktop turns Google's Web-based Chrome OS into a not entirely unreasonable option for certain low-cost PC shoppers.
The lower-cost Mac Mini offers respectable budget performance and Apple's usual compelling design, but a puny hard drive and a lack of HDMI hurt this system's value and overall potential. It's actually more versatile next to its budget-priced Windows competition than the higher-end Mac Mini, but this entry-level Mac is still best left to Apple loyalists.
We like the looks of Asus' Eee Box EB1501, but it's pricier than Blu-ray players that stream content from the Web, and not as powerful as slightly more expensive slim tower PCs that offer significantly more speed and power. Asus made a decent attempt at the Nettop-as-set-top-box replacement with this system, but it's crowded out by too many alternatives.
Thanks to its diminutive size and next-generation Intel chipset and CPU, the Dell OptiPlex SX280 is perfect for small-business and corporate buyers who need future-proof, small-form-factor desktops.
With its thoughtful features, Dell's charming little Inspiron Zino HD is perfectly suited to serve up HD content to your living room. We wish it had more general computing speed, and design purists will find the Mac Mini more sophisticated, but on balance we recommend it, especially to more casual home theater PC enthusiasts.