Mesh is a stalwart of the computer industry, having been around for over 30 years. High time then to review another system by the company, in this case its a Phenom-based Xtreme GTX300 Gaming and Entertainment system. This is not just a PC either, but includes a keyboard, mouse, monitor and speakers.
Even among desktops, which are already threatened by notebooks, it's probably fair to say that all-in-one systems are becoming ever rarer. A large percentage of consumers who still buy desktops are enthusiasts, who will usually want to combine their own monitor and other bits with any PC. But of course there are others for whom a complete setup without further hassle is ideal - so let's see if the GTX300 is worth considering.
It must be said that aesthetically, Mesh has put together a very attractive package, with black and silver as the main colour scheme. For a monitor, you get the decent Iiyama ProLite E2207WS 22in LCD, which we've already reviewed.
Unfortunately, though it holds up in the looks department, it does have disappointing contrast, so despite wide viewing angles it's not ideal for entertainment or gaming. We'd recommend upgrading to one of the Iiyama 24in displays Mesh offers if you can spare the extra £100, especially since this will also give you a Full HD resolution to go with the GTX300's Blu-ray drive. Yep, this machine comes with an LG lightScribe drive that can handle Blu-ray and the sadly deceased HD-DVD format in addition to writing DVDs.
Of course, a system with this kind of entertainment potential requires surround sound, and we've a budget-friendly but by no means budget-sounding offering in the Creative Inspire T6100s. This analogue-only 5.1 system is as basic as it gets; it doesn't do any fancy tricks, but is solid and well-constructed. The plastic satellites are about the size of the average hand, and nicely curved with a silver ring around the speaker mesh offsetting the glossy black finish. They can be either wall-mounted by just hanging them from a screw, or placed on a desk or shelf with the small stands provided.
Cabling is hard-wired into the satellites, which makes it very difficult to replace if the cables break but is common for cheaper systems, as are the non-gold-plated phono plugs at the end. The subwoofer only has inputs for the speakers, one of which is a special cable carrying both power and audio to the front-right speaker, which doubles as a control module. It features a volume control, headphone jack and a nice blue power LED, which incidentally matches the PC's one very nicely.
The T6100 connects to the computer via a cable that's hard-wired into the sub and terminates at the other end with three 3.5mm jacks. Connecting them to the GTX300 is child's play as both the cable's jack plugs and the sound card's sockets are colour-coded to match. The only potentially major negative is the cables for the front and centre satellites are really short.
When it gets to sound quality, the separate tweeters and mid-range drivers make for a fairly accomplished performance. Bass is especially strong, which is always a good thing in games and action movies. Midrange also comes across with surprising clarity and verve. Best of all, the T6100s manage room-filling volumes without too much distortion, meaning they'll be more than adequate in a bedroom or study.