How ? 5 in 1 speakers with laptops.

Discussion in 'hardware' started by Ocky, Mar 21, 2009.

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  1. Ocky

    Ocky Registered Member

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    I would like to migrate from desktop to laptop (due to power blackouts,
    which were quite frequent here - better now due to economic downturn,
    but things will get a lot worse due to unbelievable mismanagement).

    I like my music and videos and will not buy a laptop if I can't connect my
    5 in 1 speaker setup. Is there a way ? all laptops just seem to have one or
    two headphone jacks and a mic. jack - even the Dell XPS 16 that I am looking
    at now. Will I need an external sound card or pcmcia sound card, and what are
    the pros/cons of using these ?

    Regards.
     
  2. Searching_ _ _

    Searching_ _ _ Registered Member

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  3. Ocky

    Ocky Registered Member

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    Hah .. nice solution, thanks. As it will be a 'desktop replacement' I will
    mostly be using it on AC so drawing down on battery won't be a problem. :)
     
  4. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    Understand, in spite of what notebook makers tell you, NONE make good desktop replacements (or good gaming machines). Many do not like to be plugged in for long periods. Proprietary cases make the interior inaccessible for cleaning by normal users - so heat is a constant concern. Notebooks are for road warriors.

    Note that ALL computers should be on a good UPS with AVR (automatic voltage regulation) - commonly referred to as a battery backup - though backup power during a full power outage is only the icing on the cake. The AVR is what computers need most.

    Note that ALL high wattage appliances inject anomalies on the line EACH time they cycle on and off. These devices include hair dryers, refrigerators, air conditioners, microwave ovens, water coolers, toasters, coffee pots, etc. If there are any of these devices in your office or home, you need an UPS with AVR. If you live in an apartment or dormitory, you need an UPS with AVR. If you think a surge and spike protector is good enough, it is nothing more than a fancy and expensive extension cord as it does NOTHING for sags, dropouts, or extended surges. And it does not regulate the voltage during surge and spike events - it just whacks (clamps) off the tops of the sinewave.

    A good 1000VA UPS with AVR will protect a full size computer, the home or small office network equipment, and TWO 22" LCD widescreen monitors with no problems - and provide over 20 minutes of backup power in the event of a full outage - which are not uncommon here in Tornado Alley, USA.
     
  5. agagouga

    agagouga Registered Member

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  6. timcan

    timcan Registered Member

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    I've been using the creative soundblaster Extigyusb external sound card now for 4 or 5 years now with 5.1 speakers. Still works as good as it did the day I bought it.:)
     
  7. Ocky

    Ocky Registered Member

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    I agree with everything you have said. Here we do not have sufficient built
    power utility capacity and last year we had planned outages of 2/4 hours every
    3 days for well over a month. It will get a lot worse until new power
    stations are up and running in about 2015/16. So having only UPS backup
    of say 20/30 minutes will deprive me of my favourite pastime :argh:
    Maybe I will reconsider the laptop - there will still be plenty cables ( the
    speakers, the usb external sound card, printer, my ADSL ethernet router plus
    wireless access point, and taking your advice a UPS with AVR even for laptops.)
    In other words I won't be cutting down on cables with a laptop intended to
    replace my desktop.

    Many thanks everyones input. I am thankfully still in the deciding stage.
     
  8. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    Ummm, well, note that is 20 to 30 EXTRA minutes you would not have had, once power was gone. And note if your power is that unreliable now, then surely the power when you do get it is not very clean or stable - once again crying out for a good UPS with AVR. As noted, power during an outage is only the icing on the cake - the regulation is what babies your computer - and saves your data.
     
  9. zapjb

    zapjb Registered Member

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    Anybody get this working with Linux (PCLinuxOS) & or Vista64?
     
  10. Ocky

    Ocky Registered Member

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  11. Raza0007

    Raza0007 Registered Member

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    I have Dell XPS M1530 and it has 5.1 channel High Definition Audio using Sigmatel STAC9228 audio controller. I am surprised that XPS 16 does not have it. Are you sure you had a close look at the specifications of XPS 16.
     
  12. Ocky

    Ocky Registered Member

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    I realise that they both support 5.1, but how would I connect my speakers - there
    are only 2 line-out and 1 Mic-in jacks - I need 3 line-out, unless the Mic jack
    can somehow be used.

    XPS M1530 must be one of the best :) - are you happy with it ?
    Are you by any chance running Linux on it ?

    Regards.
     
  13. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    You need to look in your manual. In most cases, when a sound device (on-board or separate card) supports 5.1 but does not have separate L+R rear and sub channel outputs, the input connectors (Mic and Line in) can be reconfigured either by a menu option, or the device is capable of auto-sensing speakers when attached, and automatically reconfigures.
     
  14. Raza0007

    Raza0007 Registered Member

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    Yes, as Bill Bright pointed out above, in XPS M1530 the mic jack does indeed function as a Rear speaker outlet. So, I connect the "Green - front speakers" from my 5.1 system to the left most jack on XPS, "Orange - Center/ LFE speakers" to the center jack on XPS and "Black - Rear speakers" to the mic jack on XPS.

    You need to check in the Sigmatel audio control center if it has detected mic jack connected to rear speakers. If not just right click and select rear speakers.

    Enjoy 5.1 surround sound on your XPS.

    It might not give you the sound from a high end desktop 5.1 sound card on paper, but honestly I can not tell the difference in real life.

    Like you this was one of my main concerns, when I was buying a Laptop, as I use my computer as an entertainment center. I went with XPS because it offered 5.1 high def audio. It was rare at the time I bought it among laptops.

    Am I happy with M1530? Yes, I am. But it depends on the particular configuration of the Laptop. I bought this Jan 1, 2008. At that time it was one of the best laptop systems available, going by overall configuration. Now, others might have caught up.

    I have only run Vista Home premium on it.

    Let me know if you need further help or have any question regarding XPS M1530.
     
  15. Ocky

    Ocky Registered Member

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    Many thanks Bill_Bright and Raza0007 ! This clarifies it for me.

    @Raza0007
    My desktop computer is switched on average 10 hours a day, will
    this be OK with XPS M1530 - i.e. no overheating ?
    As I would be running it mainly from AC, battery performance is not
    of primary concern, but for the record what is your battery up-time ?
    Also what would you recommend, XPS (Studio) 16 or XPS M1530 ?
    (The M1730 is too expensive).

    Regards.
     
  16. Raza0007

    Raza0007 Registered Member

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    I have my Laptop turned on more then 12 hrs a day and there are no heating issues. It does get hot especially the left hand rest as the hard drive is there but that is because it is made out of metal and dissipates heat more efficiently. It shuts itself off if the temp gets over recommended settings. It happened to me just once and it was my fault. I left it sitting on a blanket and the blanket blocked its air wents underneath. Just make sure you keep the air wents clear.

    I usually operate the laptop on AC with the battery connected. battery up-time? I assume you mean how long can it operates on battery? Well, with my configuration and my powerplan it gives me an estimate of about 3 hrs. I have used it for about 1.5 hrs with 55% of battery still remaining.

    What would I recommend? Well, it actually depends on your requirements. The last I checked they were only offering a 6-cell battery with XPS Studio 16. I would definitely recommend a 9-cell battery. The 9-cell battery for XPS protrudes from the backend and lifts your laptop above the table. It is good for air circulation and typing. But some people do not like the look of laptop raised from the back. Make sure you check it out before buying. If they don't have a 9-cell battey with studio 16 then go with XPS M1530.

    I would recommend a 7200 rpm hard drive, at least 3 GB RAM, At least 1440 x 900 resolution screen, At least 2.2 GHz Core 2 duo with 4 mb cache, 256 Mb graphics card.

    of course you should go with what works for you.

    XPS M1730 is not a portable system in my opinion. Imagine carrying a 17 inch laptop around!
     
  17. Ocky

    Ocky Registered Member

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    Thank you Raza007 ! :thumb:

    Yes, I agree with the specs. you mentioned. I will miss my WD Raptor 10000 rpm
    drives, which are really fast - boot up on XP to usable screen is 24 secs. and
    that's on XP first installed nearly 4 years ago.
    If I decide on this laptop I will opt for 2x drives @7200 rpm. One for Windows
    and one for Linux (which I prefer vastly). I would go for only Linux but sometimes
    laptops can be somewhat problematic eg. I am typing this from my wife's
    laptop on which I installed CentOS. It is great except for one thing, when I close
    the lid that's it - can't get back to GUI. However the good news is that I can
    suspend to RAM (fn+f3), so it's not a major problem. Her other laptop, a newer
    Dell Inspiron 1525 is perfect, and only has Linux installed (Ubuntu 8.10).

    That's why I asked whether you run some flavour of Linux. :argh:

    http://www.notebookcheck.net/Dell-XPS-M1530.7413.0.html
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2009
  18. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    I think you will find that some notebook makers do not recommend running laptops for hours on end - if nothing else, heat being the bane of all electronics, running it for extended periods near the extremes of normal, increases aging. Also note that laptops have fans to suck in dust, dirt, hair and dander, just as with all PCs. But laptops don't cater to users opening up the cases to clean that heat trapping blanket of dust caked on everything inside. I recommend laptop, errr, notebook users (they should never be run on your lap - or blankets ;)) use a Notebook Cooling Pad w/ext. power supply too.

    PCs, on the other hand, are designed to be up and running 24/7/365. This is because the makers don't know if it will be used in a 24/7 office, as a file server on a network, or whatever.

    I keep my systems on 24/7 - then I schedule my anti-malware scanners to update and run at night.

    BUT - you still must make sure the system is clean of heat trapping dust, and that the case is providing adequate front-to-back air flow to prevent heat from building up inside. I prefer at least one fan in front drawing cool air in, and one fan in back (in addition to any in the PSU) exhausting hot air out. I recommend everyone open the side and inspect the interior of the case monthly - make sure it is clean, and all fans are spinning. Be sure to unplug the computer from the wall, and touch bare metal of the case interior before reaching in. Then keep in contact frequently thereafter, to discharge and prevent buildup of destructive static.

    Before upgrading any hardware on any PC, make sure the power supply has enough horsepower and the proper connections to run it, without straining. Use the eXtreme PSU Calculator Lite to determine your power supply unit (PSU) requirements. Plug in all the hardware you think you might have in 2 or 3 years (extra drives, bigger or 2nd video card, more RAM, etc.). Be sure to read and heed the notes at the bottom of the page. I recommend setting Capacitor Aging to 30%, and if you participate in distributive computing projects (e.g. BOINC or Folding@Home), I recommend setting TDP to 100%. Research your video card and pay particular attention to the power supply requirements for your card listed on your video card maker's website. If not listed, check a comparable card (same graphics engine and RAM) from a different maker. The key specifications, in order of importance are:
    1. Current (amperage or amps) on the +12V rail,
    2. Efficiency,
    3. Total wattage.
    Then look for power supply brands listed under the "Good" column of PC Mechanic's PSU Reference List. Ensure the supplied amperage on the +12V rails of your chosen PSU meets the requirements of your video card. Don't try to save a few dollars by getting a cheap supply. Digital electronics, including CPUs, RAM, and today's advanced graphics cards, need clean, stable power. A good, well chosen supply will provide years of service and upgrade wiggle room. I strongly recommend you pick a supply with an efficiency rating equal to, or greater than 80%. Look for the 80 Plus - EnergyStar Compliant label. And don't forget to budget for a good UPS with AVR (automatic voltage regulation).
     
  19. Raza0007

    Raza0007 Registered Member

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    @Ocky

    Just wanted to mention, go with the latest laptop. M1530 was released oct-nov 2007 and I bought it 2 months later. If I was buying a laptop today I would go for the latest model (budget permitting). So, check the studio 16, it appears to be the latest model offered by dell in the XPS range.

    I did not know Linux had problems with laptops. The lid thing can be solved by changing the setting in the OS to when close lid do nothing. I do not know where this setting will be in Linux as I don't use it. but it is under power options in vista.
     
  20. Raza0007

    Raza0007 Registered Member

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    I have run my laptop 12 hrs on average for last 1.2 years without encountering any problems. I do clean the air-wents regularly, plus the big went at the back for fan. I normally do not shut down the computer either but put it in sleep mode. Now, I agree that companies recommend not using laptops for long use but I always thought of it along the lines that do not use a laptop 24/7, for that use get a desktop.

    Nice tips in the last part of of ur post but it applies mostly to desktops. You hardly make extensive upgrades to your laptop.
     
  21. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    That's great - if every user did that, most would never encounter heat related problems.

    (Oh, and those are vents, not wents. ;))

    That's true and because they are so proprietary, there are few upgrades opportunities available - a major downside to portables. Desktops can evolve over years, with upgrades to the major components stretched over time, and 1000s of choices to choose from. With a notebook, it's a whole new computer (CPU, RAM, motherboard, monitor, sound, speakers, keyboard, etc.) every time. Very expensive upfront, to maintain, and to upgrade, with very limited choices, and virtually a single source (the notebook maker) to choose from.

    But - of course, with a notebook, you can take it with you, or lock it up easily.

    It doesn't - no more than any other OS has a problem running the proprietary hardware found in notebooks.

    http://www.linux-laptop.net/
     
  22. Ocky

    Ocky Registered Member

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    Fact is some laptops are more 'linux friendly' than others and require fewer
    or in rare cases, no workarounds to get stuff like sound, graphics, wireless
    working optimally. This is also borne out by the site you have linked.
    Of course it also depends on the distro. There are generally speaking
    fewer issues with desktops IMHO.
    I was lucky with my wife's Dell Inspiron 1525 with Ubuntu 8.10 - everything
    worked 'out of the box'. Her old HP nx6110 works fine with CentOS 5.3 apart
    from the lid closing problem mentioned before. I have yet to find a workaround
    for this.
    One things for sure - laptop vs. desktop is a difficult choice for me.

    Regards
     
  23. Osaban

    Osaban Registered Member

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    I have a 17 inch Asus W2P that does just about anything and more than most desktops. When I use it at home, it rests on a cooling platform (four fans), although it is really not required. I personally could never go back to the bulk of a desktop (nowadays most laptops have enough power).

    As far as carrying it, it's not a problem for me, it has been especially designed for multimedia purposes and particularly for presentations.
     
  24. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    Ummm, that's pretty much what all notebooks were designed for - the road warrior.
     
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