Watchdog: April 2008


Watchdog: April 2008

Why isn’t it Free for Me, Too?

While the Sound Blaster X-Fi gets free ALchemy drivers, Audigy and Audigy 2 owners must pony up $10 to get Windows Vista hardware support.


Dog, the March Vista Tips story said that ALchemy drivers for X-Fi and Audigy owners are free. They’re not—at least, not that I know of. Creative Labs is charging owners of its Audigy cards $9.99 to download ALchemy and enable DirectSound3D in Windows Vista. I don’t think consumers should have to pay for the fix. You should let readers know that the Audigy download will cost them. If you can get Creative to do the Audigy ALchemy program for free, I would love to know.

—R. Gardner

The Dog looked into this and, indeed, we incorrectly stated that Creative Labs provides Audigy and Audigy 2 ALchemy drivers for free for Windows Vista. Only drivers for the X-Fi series of Sound Blaster cards are available for free. Why isn’t ALchemy free for everyone? The Dog asked Creative and was told: “As a gesture of appreciation to the users of our current soundcard line, which is X-Fi based, we absorbed the cost of development for ALchemy, so our customers could experience the full benefits of hardware-accelerated audio in legacy DirectSound game titles. ALchemy’s popularity of more than a million free downloads inspired users of our previous-generation Audigy-based cards to contact us about a solution for the issues of legacy DirectSound game titles running on Vista. We redirected some of our engineering resources to develop an independent version of ALchemy for Audigy, while still absorbing the majority of the development cost while passing on a nominal fee to customers.”

The Dog thinks that giving away the driver would certainly make people happy, but $10 really isn’t an exorbitant fee if legitimate costs were involved in its development. That you can get hardware audio acceleration in Vista on a four-year-old soundcard should actually be applauded (even if the cost is $10), as most hardware vendors would have dumped you in the river.


EZ Video, Hard to Contact

I have been trying to find a video converter that will allow me to watch Real Media files on my cell phone, a Nokia 9300. I downloaded and paid for EZ MPEG To RM Converter at It seemed like a professional site, but I was wrong. As far as I can tell, the site is still running and will still take your money with PayPal but will not send the registration name or code required to use its software beyond the trial period of 15 videos.

I emailed the company three times and never got a response. I also paid for Easy Video Converter, which was supposed to convert any video format to any other format. I did get a code for it, but of course, it didn’t work as advertised.

Please know that this is not about the money. It’s just the principle of the thing. I know that I won’t get my money back, so at least let me get what I paid for.

— Lloyd Kuhnle

The Dog made numerous attempts to reach the operators of but had no success. Your problem might be lost in translation, though. The site is registered to a company based in the Qingdao province of China. The Dog also sniffed around the web to see if others have complained about the company, but surprisingly, the Dog couldn’t locate anything that set off alarm bells. Since the company actually did respond to you once, the Dog recommends that you continue to email the company for a code to activate the product. In the meantime, contact PayPal to dispute the payment. Although PayPal isn’t known to be particularly good with consumer complaints and disputes, you should at least give this avenue a try. Keep in mind that any dispute must be filed within 45 days, and PayPal is very strict about the deadline. The Dog recommends that other readers avoid’s products until he can ascertain what exactly is going on with the company. Woof.


Got a bone to pick with a vendor? Been spiked by a fly-by-night operation? Sic the Dog on them by writing The Dog promises to answer as many letters as possible, but only has four paws to work with.





+ Add a Comment


CameraAddict is pulling the same stunt with me. They baggered me into buying additional accessories (which I did not) and then told me the model I bought was a Japanese model and I had to pay and additional $150 dollars for the US model. I said they are false advertising. The operator said "all right ... I am assuming you want the Japanese model and I am going to process the order as such." He hung up before I could get my response in. They later sent me an email saying the camera is backordered. I sent an email response back to cancell the order. They did not resond back. I called customer service 6 times only to have my call "disconnected by accident". They have not resolved my issues as of this posting.

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