Samsung N110: Wi-fi and Sound Problems Sorted!

I will fight to my dying breath to avoid being labelled as part of the Samsung netbook “community” (Lest I be grouped alongside those pony-tailed, Jobs-worshipping Mac-addicts) but there seem to be a fair few of us out there owning at least one or more of the popular and crtically-lauded Samsung product line*. This comes in very handy when a problem develops: in most cases there is at least one other person who has experienced the same thing.

Since I purchased my delightful little Samsung N110, ‘Samantha’ to her friends, she’s unfortunately been plagued by two issues that have significantly affected my ability to make use of her in the ways I’d envisioned.

1. The first concerned her sound capabilities. I don’t have any form of music playback equipment anywhere in my home other than my desktop PC which, yes, is capable of some superb sound but sometimes it’s nice to have music playing somewhere other than the small room I laughingly call a ‘Study’. If you have friends round, for example, or even just if you fancy an evening on the sofa with a good book. So my idea was to set up a pair of good, bassy speakers in the lounge and use the Netbook as a portable, programmable music centre. What little music I have (only about 14 gig so far which is nothing compared to some people’s collections) fits easily on her ample 160Gb hard-drive.

Sadly, right from the word go Samantha’s sound card has been popping and cracking whenever I attempted to play anything. So far it’s been bearable for travelling – the volume produced by the device’s own internal speaker isn’t anything to write home about. But when hooked up to good speakers and a mighty woofer…let’s just say I very nearly binned the speakers before the real cuplrit was identified.

However, while attempting to download new sound drivers for her last night directly from the Samsung website, I happened to be idly fiddling with some of her sound settings and noticed that in the Control Panel, in the Sounds and Multimedia Devices applet, the sound acceleration was set to its second setting (the fourth being fully accelerated). Curious, I moved the slider to full and then fired up one of my recent favourite tracks in the mighty Foobar.

Lo and behold, she played smoothly without any of the popping or cracking! I’ve yet to give her a thorough test so this could just have been a fluke, but I’m greatly encouraged so far.

[UPDATE] She played through my whole lunch hour without a pop – job done!

2. I love the idea of Wi-fi. Being able to surf the web from any point in or around your home – who can resist that! But try as I might I could not get Samantha to connect to my wireless router in any way but over a completely unsecured connection, meaning anyone within range could hop on and start using/abusing my precious bandwidth. To me, it was like leaving the front door of my house wide open all day – an open invitation for nefarious types to come on in and do whatever they wanted. I managed, but for peace of mind had to keep switching the wireless capability itself off and on through my desktop PC. Hardly an ideal situation, and one I resolved to sort as soon as possible.

Google wasn’t being particularly helpful though, finding many people suffering from identical issues with similar equipment but providing sweet French Apples in the way of definitive solutions. Some hardy souls had even gone as far as complete reinstalls but I could not bring myself to even consider following their example.

[DIVERSION AHEAD]

I strongly believe that if you have a problem that needs a complete reinstall then a) you shouldn’t be using computers and b) you REALLY shouldn’t be involved in tech support. Advocating a reinstall is like me telling you to solve your problems with home draft exclusion by burning down and rebuilding your house. Granted, reinstalling an operating system can be accomplished in far less time but can often be as damaging to you, via your precious data and settings, as any house fire. There’s an art to solving PC issues (and I mean primarily Windows-based PCs), one that only really requires a little time, patience, some skills with a search engine and the occasional ability to piece together data from different sources into a workable solution. Having some understanding of how Windows and your PCs components operate doesn’t hurt, either. I have most of these, which makes it incredibly maddening when jobbing premium-rate tech support teams all over the world use the burn-your-house-down approach as as blanket response to most issues, including those that may only need a simple patch or registry tweak. A pox on them all, I say!

[END OF DIVERSION]

Back to my Wi-fi issues, some forum-ites had reported success using a simple driver update, and had posted a link to the driver in question. Swapping out drivers is usually the best place to start for hardware issues (if you’ve exhausted fiddling with the available software settings) so I decided to give it a go, despite some other forum-ites saying it did nothing for them.

The Atheros wifi driver setup opened and gave me an option to consider – did I want the driver-only install, or something callled driverACU? Google told me the ACU part was most likely the Atheros Client Utility and suggested it had something to do with greater control over the connections, making it the better choice in this instance. What big-G didn’t tell me was that the ACU would take-over control from Windows: I thought they’d work in tandem. Having just got used to the slightly fudgy way Windows managed the connections I now had to spend a few minutes investigating this new software. But hey, I’m a geek: stuff like this is my bread and butter, baby!

Happily, the ACU seemed fairly easy to understand while also lending itself to more easily handle more complex wifi setups than the one I was trying to use. And within a few moments of me typing in my new WPA passkey for the most secure connection my router could handle, the software had smartly established a solid wireless connection to the internet! Hurrah!

Finally, home entertainment in the Grunt Cave enters the 21st century!

– – – – – – – – –

*Just leave the money in the usual account, thanks, Samsung.

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One Response to Samsung N110: Wi-fi and Sound Problems Sorted!

  1. yash1229 says:

    “I strongly believe that if you have a problem that needs a complete reinstall then a) you shouldn’t be using computers and b) you REALLY shouldn’t be involved in tech support. Advocating a reinstall is like me telling you to solve your problems with home draft exclusion by burning down and rebuilding your house. Granted, reinstalling an operating system can be accomplished in far less time but can often be as damaging to you, via your precious data and settings, as any house fire. There’s an art to solving PC issues (and I mean primarily Windows-based PCs), one that only really requires a little time, patience, some skills with a search engine and the occasional ability to piece together data from different sources into a workable solution. Having some understanding of how Windows and your PCs components operate doesn’t hurt, either. I have most of these, which makes it incredibly maddening when jobbing premium-rate tech support teams all over the world use the burn-your-house-down approach as as blanket response to most issues, including those that may only need a simple patch or registry tweak. A pox on them all, I say!”
    You, my friend, are my soul-mate.
    All my friends are Macs & look down upon me(since i’m a PC user). This should shut them up, once & for all. 😉

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