The tiny AcerPower 2000 may fit in a shoebox, but it's big enough inside to do the jobs most of us need to do, plus it has some fancy sound capabilities.

The small form factor machine is equipped with an Intel Core2 1.80 GHz processor, 1 GB installed memory and 160 GB hard drive, and Gigabit Ethernet.

I am one of those people, however, who appreciates a machine's innards for what I don't see - hang-ups, crashes, and the like - so I was pleased with the Acer's responsiveness and reliability. But what I liked most wasn't on the inside, but on the outside.

One thing that drives me crazy about many computers is that the USB ports are located on the back of a 50-pound machine. So every time I want to connect or disconnect my iPod, digital camera or any other device, I have to lug the big monster out of its cubby.

Nowadays, computer manufacturers are providing a limited number of USB ports on the front of the machine. This machine, however, solves the port accessibility problem in every way. The AcerPower 2000 offers four USB ports in front in addition to the mic and headphone jacks. On the back, it gives users four more USB ports, plus the VGA, DVI and Ethernet ports, power supply and six line in/line out jacks. And if you need to switch the cables behind the machine, it can be picked up with one hand.

And one added bonus: This machine is quiet. If it weren't for the "on" indicator light, you likely wouldn't know it was on.

There were lots of reasons to like this machine, but I must take a moment to point out that there's such a thing as too fancy. This device has some audio perks, including high-definition audio. If you purchase this machine for its audio capabilities and want to tinker with every aspect of it, then it will please you much.

Some of us, however, just want to plug something in and have it work. When I plugged in my speakers, I was faced with a number of options, and being impatient, I proceeded quickly rather than thoughtfully. And for this, I was punished with no music. So I tried again and got a strangely high-pitched version of all my favorite songs. So I tried again, still high-pitched.

After dragging co-workers and our IT guy into it, and jumping through a few hoops - downloading a new media player and tinkering a little with the audio software - we finally got normal-sounding music. Once we got the audio on track, there was a lot that can be done with the sound, so all these options are valuable to a certain audience.

The AcerPower 2000 UD431C configuration is a good little machine for about $600.

 

Specs: 

  • Dimensions:
    2.4x9.8x7.9 inches
  • Processor:
    Intel Core2 E4300 1.80 GHz
  • Storage:
    160 GB SATA hard drive
  • Memory:
    1 GB installed
  • Video:
    Integrated Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 3000
  • Audio:
    High-definition audio
  • Communications:
    Gigabit LAN