Google's Project Ara has shown us how a modular component approach can work with a smartphone, and now Acer is trying the same strategy with the compact PC. Its latest Revo Build machine can be customized and slotted together like a tower made of blocks, with each piece adding extra functionality or capacity.
One block is a 1TB hard drive, for example, while others include a wireless charging dock, a speaker unit, a dedicated Graphics Processor Unit (GPU), a projector and a microphone. All of these extra components fit on top of the core PC itself, which offers the essentials (RAM, CPU and so on), so you can build up a custom-made computer without any screwdrivers or technical know-how whatsoever. It's also possible to switch blocks between different Revo Build PCs.
The benefits of a modular approach are the same with computers as they are with smartphones. First of all, it lets you pick and choose components to match your exact specification and budget. Secondly, it makes upgrading or repairing a device much more straightforward. The only limiting factor is the range of blocks Acer decides to put out, and the manufacturer promises more are on the way soon.
In terms of size, it's very compact indeed: The base unit is just 4.92 inches square with a height of 2.2 inches (56 mm). Inside there's an Intel Celeron or Pentium processor and up to 8 GB of RAM. The base unit also offers three USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port, a DisplayPort, an SD card reader and the usual headphone and microphone jacks. Without the extra blocks, those are middling specs which would suit a home theater setup rather than a gaming rig.
If you're tempted with what Acer has to offer, the Revo Build goes on sale in October across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, with prices starting at €199 (that's roughly US$225). China and US launches are expected soon after. Just note that we don't yet have pricing information for the blocks added on top of the base unit.
Razer was working on a similar concept but we haven't heard much about it in recent months, so it may well have been abandoned. If you're in the market for a cheap and easily upgradable home computer, there's more on the Revo Build at the source link below.