Think of modular devices, and one of the first examples to spring to mind may well be Google's Project Ara, the still-in-development effort to bring a handset to market with accessible components that can be swapped out and upgraded as desired. That's an intriguing prospect - after all, current smartphones aren't easily upgraded in the same way that a desktop PC is.
But not everyone knows their way around the inside of a PC, and even a relatively simple task for a techie - like adding more RAM - may be seen as overwhelmingly complex for the less tech-savvy. Indeed, that's why Acer today unveiled the Revo Build, a modular Windows 10 mini-PC that can be assembled and upgraded with the simplicity of piecing together bricks of Lego.
The Revo will be sold as a 'Main PC' base unit, taking up just 12.5 x 12.5cm of desk space, which includes the processor (one of the latest Skylake-generation Intel Pentium or Celeron chips), 8GB of RAM (which can be "easily upgraded by just loosening one screw) and 32GB of storage.
But in addition to this, Acer will be offering additional 'Blocks', which attach magnetically to the base unit and to each other, and which expand the capabilities of the machine. Examples of Blocks on the way include:
- 500GB or 1TB hot-swappable Portable Hard Drive
- Wireless Power Bank for wireless device charging
- Audio Block with speakers and microphones
- Graphics Block for GPU upgrades
Only the hard drive - which can be stacked on the Revo Build, or connected to another device on the go - will be available at launch; other Blocks won't arrive until later. How much later remains unclear - Acer says new Blocks will be "rolled out gradually", but that does raise some questions over how well the company will support the new device.
If Acer regularly rolls out a wide and diverse range of new Blocks at an attractive price, it could be on to a winner; but if its efforts are half-hearted, those who purchase the device may well end up feeling pangs of buyer's remorse.
As for the question of price, Acer has said that the Revo Build will start at €249 EUR when it goes on sale in October in Europe, the Middle East and Africa; it will also be available in China from 1999 CNY. However, pricing for the Blocks remains a mystery, for now.
Earlier today, Acer also unveiled the Jade Primo, its new Windows 10 Mobile flagship, featuring a Snapdragon 808 processor, 21MP camera and support for the new Phone Continuum feature.