Watchdog: November 2007

Watchdog: November 2007

Sadie, watchdog of the month

Boo on Vista!

Apparently, the practice of swapping out Vista for XP on a new machine is quite widespread. The Dog has heard from numerous readers who wanted to chime in on Bob M.’s problem trying to get sound to work on his Toshiba notebook after rolling the OS from Vista back to XP (September 2007). Rich Deger said, “My colleague assured me she had Vista restore CDs, so I figured we had nothing to lose, as she hated Vista so much she had used the computer only once or twice in the four or so months she had it.” To get the sound to operate properly, Deger downloaded RealTek’s reference drivers and all is well.

Reader Randy Word said it’s not just audio that can be a problem when switching from Vista to XP. Although AMD claims the reference drivers available on its website support XP, Word still encountered issues with his AMD 200M-based Toshiba notebook PC. He explains, “When I tried to install the drivers, it said ‘operating system not supported.’” Word said trying to install XP on an Acer notebook was even more problematic.

Finally, Timothy Conard, a Deputy of Counter Intelligence for Geek Squad Precinct 175, said the problem may also be XP: “I would like to let your readers know that almost 100 percent of the time, the problem is with the High Definition Audio Bus package for Windows XP. It must be installed before you can install the modem or sound drivers on a Vista machine that was downgraded to XP. I personally perform the downgrade on a normal basis for customers who need WinXP on their new Vista computers. On Microsoft’s website, Knowledge Base article KB888111 can be accessed for more information on this patch. The problem is that Microsoft doesn’t make the KB888111 patch available on its website directly, you have to hunt for the Windows XP SP2 version of this file. Once the patch is installed, it will bring up the Audio Device on High Definition Audio Bus and Modem Device on High Definition Audio Bus in the device manager, where you can easily install the correct modem and sound drivers. Until KB888111 is installed, you simply cannot install the audio drivers.” Thanks, Tim. Woof.

 

Recall Alert!

Toshiba is recalling additional notebook PC batteries that may overheat and catch fire. The Sony-manufactured batteries were sold with some Satellite A100/A105 and Tecra A7 notebook PCs and had part numbers PA3451U-1BRS or PA3399U-2BRS. If you have one of the offending notebooks and the matching battery pack, go to http://tinyurl.com/29z39t and download the company’s BatteryCheck Utility to see if your cell is defective. You may also call Toshiba directly at 800-457-7777 to see if your battery is bad.

Toshiba is recommending that consumers remove the bad batteries immediately; however, the computers may still be safely used without the batteries while you wait for a replacement to arrive.

Speaking of Sony, the company is advising that certain Cyber-shot DSC-T5 cameras may inadvertently cut you when a portion of the metal coating peels away. The problem affects cameras with serial numbers between 3500001 and 3574100. Sony will provide free service to replace the part or reimburse consumers who have already paid for the repair. For more information, contact Sony support at 877-573-7669 or visit: http://tinyurl.com/23dh5u.

 

I can’t believe I’m not in the studio!

I, like many people in the music profession, have been amused by some of the recent Creative X-Fi marketing. The Xmod and other soundcards with the 24-bit Crystalizer supposedly make MP3s sound better than CDs to give you an experience that is “beyond studio quality.” That’s amazing. So, basically, if I buy these products, they will make my MP3s and CDs sound better than the mastered studio recordings? I’m confused.

—Mark

Your sarcasm sounds clearer than a 24-bit, 196KHz audio sample, Mark. To let Creative take a shot at answering your question, the Dog pinged a spokesman who said: “In the U.S., we’ve marketed the Xmod and other products as ‘making your MP3s sound better than CDs.’

This, of course, refers to the fact that CDs are 16 bit and the 24-bit Crystalizer provides outstanding audio playback for MP3 music. As you have pointed out, some of our global marketing materials have communicated the different message of ‘beyond studio quality.’ This is in reference to the CMSS-3D virtual surround sound. The Crystalizer takes it to 24-bit ‘studio quality’ and the CMSS-3D takes it ‘beyond.’ Thanks for the opportunity to explain this.”

In other words, if you viewed Creative’s marketing materials from a certain point of view, the company is technically correct. A CD will not give you the faux surround sound of CMSS-3D and most agree—Maximum PC included—that the Crystalizer actually makes many MP3s sound better. In fact, we gave the Xmod a verdict of 9 (June 2007).

But is it beyond studio quality? Unless you subscribe to Creative’s rather tortured definition, no way.

 

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

 

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