Friday, April 6, 2007

Dell announces free SoundBaster Audigy Advanced MB upgrade for Vista

Doug Peeler, a Dell Audio Engineer has posted on ..."Later this month, we plan to offer this software to customers via download for free." Keep in mind, he means it'll be free for Dell customers who purchased it previously with Windows XP.

The software Doug's referring to, is a Windows Vista version of the "SoundBlaster Audigy Advanced HD Audio *Software Edition*" also known as "Audigy Advanced MB".

It's not an audio driver. It's a suite of tools for enhancing and working with the audio on your Windows XP loaded notebook or PC. In this case, it's intended to be installed on certain model Dell notebooks and PC's that have certain Sigmatel (a company recently purchased by IDT) audio chips, also called codecs.

Note: If you are a Windows XP user, there is also a separate DRIVER also named "SoundBlaster Audigy Advanced HD Audio" that has to be installed A) after the Sigmatel audio driver, and B) before the XP version of the software suite of the same name.

If you'd like more info, and to see the original post by Doug, you can check it out here:

And let him know how much we appreciate the info and work Doug has put into getting this done.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Info Update on Dells Sound Blaster Audigy (invitation) Advanced MB "upgrade"

This post is for all the Dell customers with Windows XP and Sigmatel STAC 9200 audio who have:

  • Upgraded to or will be upgrading to Windows Vista
  • Purchased Dells integrated Sound Blaster Audigy Advanced HD audio *Software Edition*
  • Downloaded the Sound Blaster Audigy Invitation from Dell for Windows XP
  • Need "stereo mixer" (aka: What You Hear) in Windows XP with their Sigmatel 9200 audio

Note: I do not know if this applies to other Sigmatel audio codecs (chips). I am however going to look in to it.

This week, Dell made a couple of announcements which I'll boil down here:

#1) Dell customers who are Windows XP users with Sigmatel STAC 9200 codecs (chips), will find that a future Sigmatel driver update from Dell, will enable "Stereo Mixer" functionality in Windows XP. This will not require the Audigy upgrade. Dells own community forum liaison "Rollie" made the initial announcement in the Dell Community Forums. However, there is not yet a definitive date when this long expected functionality will be made available. If you absolutely require this functionality now,

#2) Lionel Menchaca from the Dell blog has announced that there will be a Windows Vista version of the Sound Blaster Audigy MB software which is also known as the "Creative Audigy Invitation" or the "integrated Sound Blaster Audigy Advanced HD audio - Software Edition." As I understand it so far, this version is currently being provided for free to only customers who meet specific requirements. This post by Lionel explains more:

Now, for Windows XP users who cannot wait for the new driver mentioned above, there are a few posts in the Dell Community Forums that may provide a "try at your own rick" solution. Many people are finding it useful until a Dell sanctioned solution is made available. Here is a link to the primary post in the thread concerning this issue: and a few key terms to further search the forum for more info and solutions would be: monitoring, stereo mix, audio ini

I'll update further details as I research and confirm them.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Dell Support came through this week...

This is copy of feedback I posted on Dell's Blog at Here's a link to the original post:

"Congratulations on the recognition you're receiving for the ongoing improvement in customer/technical support. I'd like to relate a mostly positive experience my wife had with Dell technical Support this past Sunday.

On Sunday night, my wife had the opportunity to take advantage of the Complete Care warranty she has on her Inspiron E1505 notebook. All that was required, was a replacement keyboard, which yours truly would install for her. No need to ship the notebook anywhere, no need to send a Dell technician. Lucky her, I'm sufficiently qualified to handle the task.
So my wife chose to use the online web-based Dell Support chat.

Initially, it looked like she was about to have another horror story to tell. The technical service reps records weren't accurately reflecting her Complete Care warranty status. Whooops. But, the technician did a little more digging, and while the warranty was valid, my wife was asked to check back the next day, so the record could be updated accurately.

The next day, she tried again, and with little fuss, the new keyboard was shipped. Today, my wife is happily tapping away on her notebook.

The End.

I brought this story up because just a year ago, from experience, I believe she would have had to go through a series of headaches to get the account record updated. And from there convince a support rep to ship a keyboard, and not insist the whole notebook gets shipped back to Dell.
So, I see the improvements occuring, and I welcome the continued efforts Dell is making to improve their quality of service.

Also, I have always found that the support reps English skills have always been far better typed than spoken. While I prefer using the phone to get an issue addressed, Dell's online chat support has consistently been an easier method to communicate more complicated problems to support reps. But, I'm glad to hear that phone support is improving. Kudos.


Friday, January 12, 2007

Crapware Free PC = $60 more?

Not Exactly.

CES Roundtable with Michael Dell

During the roundtable discussion with Michael Dell at the Consumer Electronics Show, the conversation foreseeably turned towards crapware.

Briefly, crapware refers to unwanted programs that come pre-loaded on your computer or laptop. Many consumers would prefer they have a choice at time of purchase as to what actually comes loaded on their PC.

In quite a few blogs across the net, authors are referring to a $60 amount for the OEM removal of crapware. So, I wanted to explain where that $60 figure came from, as I'm the one who stated it in the first place. And, after reading this post, check out the video of the entire event that Jeremiah posted, so you get the full context.

Michael asked what he referred to as a controversial question. He inquired about how much extra we'd be willing to pay, to get a system free from crapware.

So I answered $60. Why? Because over the past few years, $60 is a rough estimate of what I know a great many non-technically inclined or busy people have paid someone else to "clean up" their new PC. Yes, this is very unscientifically based on personal experience.

So, it roughly equates to a breakdown of time verses rate of pay for the tech that does the work.

An experienced tech tends to charge $30 to $35 per hour for this type of work. It usually takes them less than 2 hours to complete, and they don't always format the hard drive. Some may not even reinstall a clean version of Windows. They may just uninstall what's unnecessary using a variety of utilities for the task, then get on with securing the system and configuring it. Usually though, they'll at least delete the Windows directory and reinstall the OS.

Less experienced techs, technically inclined college kids.. etc charge less per hour, but usually take longer to complete the work. (...Yes...Yes, I know some of you are very smart and get the work done quickly and better than the "pro's." You can put your head down again and go back to sleep now... shhh... that's good... you need your sleep...)

They often opt to completely format the hard drive. Then, reinstall the operating system, applications, and reconfigure the system to the customers needs. This usually runs them 4 to 6 hours, at a rate of $10 to $15 per hour, barring unforeseen problems.

These are estimates based on personal knowledge of what local techs in NYC charge, and their methods and levels of experience. Also, through interaction with people I encounter casually and through business, I learn what they pay said techs. This doesn't include electronics retail chain based services, which charge a great deal more for the same, and in my opinion often less competent work.

Now you know where the $60 figure came from.

I just wish inaccurate sensationalist reporters and bloggers would stop blowing this figure out of proportion. For example, Justin Mann's irresponsible post title, "Dell says $60 to remove free software." Dell never said that in the way the title infers, and Justin never clarifies this detail. Here goes another sensationalist pushing his own agenda without checking the facts.

The real story is that Michael Dell jokingly, said "SOLD!" when I mentioned $60 in answer to his question. It was with good humor, and not financial intent. Sure, I think his company would accept it in a heartbeat if they could, but he WAS joking at the amount. He was obviously well aware it's a sensitive issue. Bash Dell for what they actually do wrong, there's enough of that going on. Leave the fallacious hysterics out of it. You just make all bloggers look bad.

Remember, the more facts we provide, the better the chance they may actually fix the issues we're addressing.

And just a thought. Does anyone really think Mr. Dell appreciates the timing of his question, let alone his own response, after the backlash of crapware blog topics that followed? I'm rather convinced he's long since gotten the message, we want the crapware gone, and we don't want to pay more to see it go.

Unfortunately, too many busy, lazy or technically disinclined people still add that $60 to their total cost of ownership, and would likely pay *some* amount up front to save themselves the time it takes to find a tech to do the work. Hell, many people pay $10 or more for the Windows CD, when they're already paying for the Windows license. But that's an issue for a different post.


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Ryan from explains...

Welcome to What's Up Dell?! The purpose of this blog is to address issues and share my thoughts that are unrelated, or new to the specific incident(s) that kicked off the I Believe Dell Lied website and blog. I was recently an invitee of Dell's to join a roundtable discussion with other Dell customers, bloggers, Michael Dell and Lionel Menchaca. It occured at CES and my first few posts here may be related to that event.

So, why a whole new blog? Well, primarily the other two sites provide information that a great many people have been E-mailing me to say they find valuable. It's going to take me some time that I don't have just yet, to work out how to consolidate that information without losing the elements that are helping people, and allowing them to easily find the site. Experience tells me that a wrong, even minor, change on a site can bury it in search engine results. Or, change its value to readers. Somehow I did something right, and for now I'll leave it that way. The purpose of the DellLied site was to inform people about a specific issue, and it does. So now, What's Up Dell?! is here to express my thoughts, on whatever else my interaction with Dell brings along.

Also, along with a number of other Dell customer and bloggers, I attended the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), to meet Michael Dell - CEO and Founder of Dell Inc., Lionel Menchaca - Digital Media Manager and lifeforce of Dells company blog Direct2Dell, as well as a number of other key Dell figures. And, of course... give them some feedback, in person, about my experiences with Dell, as a customer. I'm still absorbing the experience, and I'll post my reactions soon.

So, if you want to see what went on at the roundtable with Dell, check the next post on this blog.

And, I hope you find some value in what I have to say on WhatsUpDell?!, because I may very well piss a lot of people off with my directness. That isn't my intention, but I guess that's the risk of voicing ones opinion in a public space.