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the Compaq Presario CQ50-106AU hell - Part II, getting the laptop to work with Windows XP drivers

Saturday, August 30, 2008

/ by Srikanth Eswaran

In my earlier post, I had specified my experiences on purchasing a Laptop. Let me take you through the second part of this hell, bringing up the laptop from being a FreeDOS system to be able to use one of our very one MS-OSes - Windows and more windows.

Expectations

My least expectation out of buying this laptop was to get atleast a driver CD for all versions of Windows and a spec sheet containing the chipset details and details about companies making the peripherals for this laptop. Having said that I was in for a complete shock, when all HP managed to give me was a CD containing the EULA for their product. User Guides, FCC regulations, materials used in the laptop - common HP, are you kidding me? "You could have been more personal with the computer."

So now no driver CDs, but still I assumed, that's ok with me and I went home and started installing Windows XP. Everything went well until I was asked to reboot the laptop.

Display and Sound Issues

The logon screen came up after ten seconds and during these ten seconds, each second saw one refresh of the screen in a different shade in blue. Every time I clicked my mouse there used to be one refresh and it was like layers and layers of blue coming up on the screen very slowly and irritatingly. Driver Issue, I thought, and tried to find the drivers for this laptop on the HP or other websites. Laptop Drivers website did have the drivers for XP.

So I went ahead and downloaded all these drivers and started installing them. The NVIDIA GE Force 6300 driver installation went fine and I was able to get rid of the refresh problem on the display. Things were pretty good looking on the screen after that. Thanks to my friend Amar, who also happens to be from my ex-company and an IT rep, for guiding me which NVIDIA driver to use among other information contributed by him.

Next was the sound. According to information I got, the driver to be used was the Conexant Smart Audio one. But this driver was not available on the same page as the other drivers. Also to be noted is the fact that the Microsoft Universal Audio Architecture drivers needed to be done first before the audio drivers were installed. Thanks to Amar, I was able to install the audio drivers and the volume panelsprang up after that. I thought the hell blew over but little did I realize that the problems were only worse.

Upon muting the master volume, the other volumes still were unmuted, and upon connecting an external headset, the sound still came through the onboard speakers. The inbuilt microphone on the laptop monitor panel, would not work, and its settings were unchangeable as well. So that presented two issues - I could not use the mute facility as well as the microphone. - Oh the computer is so personal again!

For a long time, I always wanted to make my home entirely wireless in all respects. So I beleived this laptop can change the way I work at home now that I have an inbuilt mic/speakers and wireless. How sadly mistaken I was after this disaster. So now I was left with one brand new laptop, with one unusable useless license of XP and the need to buy another license of Vista just to see if the drivers were fine. Oh the computer is so personal again!

Quick launch buttons and Touchpad drivers

There are a good number of quick launch buttons on the CQ50-106AU for volume, brightness, etc for which drivers were available for XP. Those did not present much problems, and I was able to install them, except that the quick launch buttons were finnicky to work properly consistently. The touchpad drivers were not directly available, and I had to figure out which company made the touchpad and got the answer as Synaptics. These are the guys who write drivers for most laptops and I installed the touchpad drivers to get it working.

Wireless and Modem drivers

I installed the drivers for Broadcom wireless chipset, from here and the modem driver from here again the modem being from Conexant. However, my wireless button on the laptop would not go Blue, and stayed Orange always and the modem was fine. Also to be noted was that the modem driver was to be installed first prior to the audio ones, else we would not get proper audio output. No matter how many times and how all I tried to install the driver, the wireless interface itself was not to be found in Device Manager properties. Dumbfounded, I then had burnt an entire night's sleep trying to get Windows XP to work on this laptop. And still I had the wireless and sound not working! Oh the computer was so personal again!

Customer Service

Day one, I bought a new laptop, and Day two I was floundering about to get my hardware working. This was definitely mentally not soothing me in any way for the cost incurred on this exercise. Since I had only one facet of HP left to test out, I tried that too - Customer Service!!

Off I went at 5:15pm (deadline for accepting customers was 5:30pm) and sat along with many other customers in a Queue. First I had a feeling I entered HSBC Bank, as it felt similar with all front desk executives wearing coats and suits, looking extremely professional. I was allotted a token number for my turn and asked to sit there. Waited for about 15 minutes before my number was called. I must say the queue moves really fast, since the executives encounter similar problems with all laptops, I guess! So not only was the computer personal again, so was customer service. I went in, told them I had problems with audio and wireless drivers for my laptop, and they exclaimed - "Oh, XP!", as though me buying and using Windows XP was a crime or something. But the feeling I did get was that I belonged to Stone age as Vista (eating 2GB RAM for breakfast, lunch and dinner) was the in-thing of today!

I told them, either support me to make my laptop work or tell me that they cannot do it. So my laptop went into a "manager's room", since the executive could not directly solve the problem, and it came out with the wireless issue fixed, without the blue light glowing though - reason is that I was using Stone Age XP. I was elated that I could solve my wireless issue. I was trying to install a Broadcom Wireless Adapter driver, whereas the chipset contained an Atheros Wireless Adapter. Specs HP, Specs - this is why giving details is important. If your notion is to waste money on customer service I would suggest you waste the same money on providing details in the first place for people buying the laptop. It would go a long way in avoiding heartburn for yourselves at the customer service center. You can read this thread for more information on drivers, and check the last posts in the thread for the drivers. No one mentions that the chip in there is an Atheros. Unfortunately its been assumed that Broadcom Wireless driver and Dell wireless driver would work on an Atheros based machine which might be completely absurd! You can find the atheros driver here for Windows XP (yet to be updated)

Inbuilt Webcam

I had no trouble downloading the YouCam software and installing it to get the Webcam working on the laptop. I had no much use of it until now though so I could not test it fully. The pictures were of acceptable quality.

Inbuilt microphone won't work

So I ended up at home again trying to solve the in built microphone issue on the laptop. Without any success and cursing Conexant, I had to retire to bed since it was midnight and my efforts went in vain. So I decided to take the plunge to Windows Vista and tune into the new age computing! Oh the computer is really so personal again!

I am taking the liberty to post Part III of this thread, the more happier part where I am now using Vista with all hardware working properly. That post will also have some close up photos of the laptop in question!

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