Review Price free/subscription
PC Specialist Apollo HD2600 - PC Specialist Apollo HD2600
The monitor we received with this system is the V7 L22WD made by Video Seven, a German company that makes budget LCD monitors and TVs. It is a widescreen 22in affair with a resolution of 1,680 x 1,050, with both DVI and D-Sub inputs. Only a VGA cable was included with our system, so that's what we used for our testing.
Overall, the picture quality was usable but not worthy of merit. It suffers from a number of problems including an overall slight blurriness and poor colour reproduction. And, the use of a 6-bit (as opposed to 8-bit) panel doesn't help matters, resulting in obvious banding in what should be smooth gradients of colour.
In terms of ergonomics, the L22WD is also very lacking with only the ability to tilt forwards and backwards on offer and if, like me, you're tall the lack of height adjustment will quickly become a thorn in your side. At this point I'd try and recommend an alternative but, as PC Specialist doesn't offer any monitors of the same resolution/screen size, I can only suggest that you either cope with it or buy the system without a monitor and source one separately.
As is the trend for multimedia oriented PCs, this system came with 5.1-chanel surround sound speakers and once again I'm not quite sure what the merit of this is. Who has room and the patience to have speaker cables dangled all round there living room or PC room. For the price of this very basic 5.1 set, ninety percent of the population would be better off getting a decent set of 2.1 or 2.0 speakers, indeed either of the Creative iTrigue sets that PC Specialist offers would be reasonable alternatives. To be fair though, most PC manufacturers seem to think that surround speakers are a prerequisite for a system with gaming potential.
To prove the pudding, I listened to some MP3s, watched a trailer or two, and played a few rounds of Counter-Strike to see how the Creative Inspire 5.1 T6100 speakers performed, and unfortunately I was not surprised by the result. For sheer volume the set was just about adequate but in every other respect they fell short. Bass is boomy and hollow, mids are generally lacking, and the higher end is untidy. They're fine for the odd bit of surround gaming but I could never recommend them over spending the money on a half decent set of headphones, and if you want to listen to music you'd be better off just plugging your computer into your hi-fi - assuming it's in the same room.