Sunday, October 18, 2009

decisions, decisions

For the longest time when I play a movie in VLC, my Dell Inspiron 9300 laptop has been outputting only stereo to my 5.1 setup. I could technically get 5.1 audio, but the center channel would be nearly mute, making it unwatchable.

Last week, I finally found the correct method to use A/52 over SP/DIF to get 5.1 Dolby Digital audio to pass-through to my Logitech receiver so I could get 5.1 audio.

Then, 4 days ago I took the plunge to install an evaluation copy of Windows 7 on my admittedly old Dell laptop, and wouldn't you know it? It runs better than Windows XP (probably because I'm not running another firewall nor anti-virus in the background, as well as any fresh copy of Windows always run pretty well.)

Point is, I'm quite smitten by the bubbly graphics in Windows 7. I don't have Aero Glass turned on (my ATI X300 64meg video card doesn't run it well) - but in general, having a pretty OS that isn't bog slow (*cough* Vista *cough*) really puts a warm feeling in my belly.

The only drawback is that I'm back to square one in terms of audio decoding. I lost the ability to decode 5.1 audio yet again, and it comes down to audio driver incompatibility. The laptop only officially supported Windows XP, so to expect full Windows 7 compatibiltiy will be next to no chance.

So my dilemma is pretty simple. Keep Windows 7 and only get stereo audio when I watch movies - or switch back to Windows XP and get better sound.

I haven't decided what I do more of yet - getting true 5.1 surround sound working was pretty sweet, at least it was for the 3 days that I had it.


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