Summary: I purchased an Acer Idea500 and wrote a not very kind report a while ago that complained about a number of issues including support. However, I must now completely reverse my opinions, it's bloody marvelous!!! I used the email support provided by Acer, added a dolop of patience and hey presto all issues solved.
Summary: This is my 3rd attempt at centring all of my media in one place. First I had a Showcentre media hub, which didn't do the job. Then streaming media to an Xbox 360 via the extender, which only likes .wmv and programs such as transcode often fall over. To my surprise the Acer Idea 500 works as it should! Streams video from another PCs in my home if I want it to and no matter what format it's been encoded in.
Pros: Accessing all of my TV, video and music and photos in one place
Cons: Easy enough setup but took a long time as you have to burn your own backup of Windows
Summary: I had to download drivers from Acer and Intel to get the TV and graphics cards to work well enough ot record TV. You definitely need to be a PC expert to purchase this product, and get value out of it. New drivers would solve a lot of the problems described by other reviewers (though that does not excuse them shipping the unit in that state). It still has quirks like losing the edges of the screen in HDMI mode, but when you can work around the quirks, it is great.
Pros: MCE in a box that looks OK in the living room
Summary: If you want to waste your money, buy this PC. The graphics card is very poor, cable/digital TV is very poor quality when viewing or trying to record. DVD or TV play back does not appear in 16:9. TV only transmits at 4:3 with lots of black boarders to provide nice screen burn on an LCD TV. Media centre cannot set-up a telewest remote control with the PC's remote. Finally, Acer's support is pants.
Pros: Looks great
Cons: Can't transmit image in 16.9 widescreen on displays
Summary: My unit did not work from the start. Even though I purchased a 2 business day on-site warranty I have yet to receive service 10 days after reporting the problem. They keep saying that they have order the parts but cannot give me a date when they will arrive. Incidentally the parts are a hard drive and system board. You would have thought they would just replace the system, however no such luck.
Pros: Good looking. Compact. Promises lots of features at an excellent price.
Cons: Atrocious customer service. Unit has not worked ever since I received it.
Summary: I'd been thinking about getting a media centre PC for a while, and now I'm very pleased to have gone for the Acer. It looks good and use of the media centre is very easy. I'm looking forward to matching it with a new LCD TV in the next month or so and then trying it with Xbox 360 as an extender. You need to spend some time setting up the home network, but so far, so good.
Pros: Easy basic set-up for a media centre and reasonable picture with an old-style TV
Summary: Mine came from DIGI UK, good price, excellent service but now FM radio doesn't work. Almost impossible to stabilise the picture on S Video setting even on my TV. Also it seems to have a mind of its own waking up from hibernation. Looks like my iDea 500 is going back for repair five days after purchase.
Pros: Cool looking pice of kit
Cons: Manual and support rubbish - dont rely on the manual to tell you what to do
Summary: Very good machine with all the possible connections that you need. While easy to get up and running, I would have liked a more detailed user guide to illustrate connection possibilities. User guide is focused on Media Centre software to detriment of all else. Have heard poor ratings about the TV tuners but I cannot complain. All Freeview channels scanned in okay and good reception. For the price, I don't think you can complain about the component choices.
Pros: Range of connectivity
Cons: User guide could be better to cater all connectivity posibilities
Summary: If you have no techy knowledge find a friend before you buy ANY media centre. Mine came from DIGI UK, good price, excellent service but now FM radio doesn't work, almost impossible to stabilise the picture on one setting even on my new large LCD TV. Looks like my iDea 500 is going back for repair 5 days after purchase.
Pros: Styling is perfect, picture and sound quality pretty good