Packard Bell Maestro 220 LCD monitor review

Packard Bell isn’t exactly renowned for its activity in the display market, and appears to be promoting its new Maestro series as a rival to conventional LCD TVs rather than as a monitor for your PC.

As a 22-inch widescreen display we’ve certainly got no problems with the size but on closer inspection this seems to be a debateable move.

With no dedicated inputs for such TV oriented signals, you’re left with a choice of using the single DVI port or one of the two VGA ports alongside. Quite why this isn’t the other way around we’re not sure, but based on the growing popularity of media PCs we’ll approach the Maestro in a video-oriented manner to see how it performs.

One aspect that does seem to have come from the LCD TV camp is the nature of the stand, a simple yet stylish silver affair that slots neatly into the bottom of the display and places it quite low on the desk with only a vertical tilt mechanism to adjust the viewing angle.

If you are looking at this screen as a primary desktop display bear in mind the lack of height adjustment or a swivel mechanism leaves you very restricted from a comfort point of view. In addition you’ll find that when you venture past about a 45 degree viewing angle a rather harsh yellow hue takes over the screen, drastically affecting the quality and colour.

Setup is straightforward but if you want to tweak settings to improve picture performance you’ll have to do everything manually. Unlike NEC’s LCD20WGX2 there are no handy presets for environments like gaming, movies and web browsing, so you’ll inevitably settle for something that does a reasonable job of each.

The lack of a dedicated video mode or any obvious built in technology to support it does show up during playback. Although not as noticeable during the day, at night time with the lights out or during particularly dark scenes there is noticeable light leakage at the top and bottom of the screen.

A 5ms refresh rate handles fast moving scenes pretty well though, and the appeal of the widescreen display does go some way to making up for this. If gaming is more your cup of tea you’re far less likely to notice these issues, and we were impressed by the effect the dimensions of the panel had on the latest titles, particularly those that offer 16:9 support.

If you’re looking to use the display primarily for general PC use you’ll find that once the settings have been tweaked the 1680 x 1050 resolution and amount of room you have to work with on your desktop makes for a pretty good experience.

In general the Maestro does a decent job of accurately emphasising colour and clarity, partly due to the Diamondview high-gloss display. It’s also worth nothing that there are two 5W speakers and a built in amplifier, which are inevitably a tad tinny but would do in situations where atmosphere isn’t a priority.

Verdict

In terms of its capabilities as a large general use display the Maestro is big, stylish and generally effective.

It’s a shame about the black levels and light leakage, if you’re looking to use it primarily for TV or video playback you can knock another point off our final rating below.