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Customer: Dell Denies Speaker Repair Under Warranty, Blames VLC

timothy posted about a year ago | from the because-that-makes-sense dept.

Media 526

An anonymous reader writes "VLC is incapable of increasing the actual power past 100%, all that is being done is the waveform is being modified to be louder within the allowed constraints. But, that didn't stop Dell from denying warranty service for speaker damage if the popular VLC Media Player is installed on a Dell laptop. Also we got a report that service was denied because KMPlayer was installed on a laptop. The warranty remains valid on the other parts of the laptop. VLC player developer [Jean-Baptiste Kempf] denied the issue with VLC and further claimed that the player cannot be used to damage speakers. How can I convince Dell to replace my laptop speaker which is still in warranty? Or class action is only my option?"

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Tell them... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46203807)

... to fuck beta.

Re:Tell them... (0, Troll)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about a year ago | (#46203829)

Grasshopper ALWAYS wrong, in argument with chicken.

Re:Tell them... (3, Informative)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year ago | (#46203981)

Do you realize that the "fuck beta" comments are already much more annoying than the actual beta?

Fuck "fuck beta" comments.

Re:Tell them... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46204051)

Fuck beta!

Re:Tell them... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46204243)


Didn't know how to give my opinion...

Oh by the way, just we are not against it because it's new, and we don't like change. We just don't like ugly change.
Same with windows 8, people don't hate it, because it's different. People hate it because it's terrible to use, and looks ugly too...

I want something new, that's easier to use, faster, or more features, or looks better... Not change for change....

Re:Tell them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46204067)

Life's so unfair, boohoo. Idiot.

Does the tin man have a sheet metal cock? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46203815)

Another good reason to avoid DELL.

Yeah! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46203825)

classic [slashdot.org]

Force them to warrenty whole unit.. (5, Interesting)

Pessime (1600787) | about a year ago | (#46203831)

Find some way to ruin the whole unit in a way that doesn't void the warranty. Start a process that uses lots of power so your chips are working hard, and wrap it up in a hot blanket. Or something along those lines.

Re:Force them to warrenty whole unit.. (5, Funny)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about a year ago | (#46203901)

look, you're not fooling anyone. they stopped selling blanket warrantys years ago.

Re:Force them to warrenty whole unit.. (0)

StripedCow (776465) | about a year ago | (#46203931)

Or put the unit in a (microwave) oven.

Re:Force them to warrenty whole unit.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46204001)

what ever your problem is , microwave the entire unit is the solution.

Nuke them from orbit, its the only way to be sure

Re:Force them to warrenty whole unit.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46204023)

Or put the unit in a (microwave) oven.

That doesn't really give you unlimited access to pot. Don't believe everything you see on TV. http://southpark.wikia.com/wik... [wikia.com]

Re:Force them to warrenty whole unit.. (5, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about a year ago | (#46204173)

What do you mean, "find a way"?

It's a Dell. It's going to fail during the warranty period without requiring any shenanigans from the poster.

Small Claims (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46203837)

IANAL, but your first path for court action is small claims, not a class action.

Re:Small Claims (5, Insightful)

IQGQNAU (643228) | about a year ago | (#46203955)

You don't need a lawyer for small claims, so not being one isn't a big problem. Filing the claim will also get the attention of some higher ups that the tech support tree will block you from.

Re:Small Claims (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46204033)

> You don't need a lawyer for small claims, so not being one isn't a big problem.

IANAL but I've been a claimant in multiple class actions, one of which was taken up to the supreme court where my name was attached to a finding, naturally (also we won).

I don't think you understand what's being discussed. If you sue and fail in small claims does that invalidate a class action attempt? Depends on the class action and verdict (which may exclude anyone who made previous attempts). Since you don't grasp the situation, perhaps you should preface that you aren't a lawyer either.

Re:Small Claims + Other Options (5, Interesting)

esten (1024885) | about a year ago | (#46204131)

Ask Dell what the cost of the repairs are then fill in small claims court for that amount.

Some other things you might do are:
1. Complain to BBB
2. Talk to your credit card company you have have additional warranty service under them.
3. Email CEO. michael@dell.com & link to Slashdot story

4. Nuke option. Have Slashdot email CEO michael@dell.com
(Would we crash their email server?)

Re:Small Claims (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46204061)

IANAL, but your first path for court action is small claims, not a class action.

For an individual claim, yes. But more to the point, going forward people should just uninstall [fuckbeta.org] the offending software before making a claim, and skip the class action. It would save everyone a lot of trouble.

Re:Small Claims (2, Informative)

mysidia (191772) | about a year ago | (#46204171)

IANAL, but your first path for court action is small claims, not a class action.

OK, but to make the true claim of Unfair competition, and ANTICOMPETITIVE BEHAVIOR against open source software (VLC product), in favor of Dell Partners' products, a small claims action is not going to fit the bill.

This should be the American People VS Dell, for half a billion dollars.

Re:Small Claims (2)

mwvdlee (775178) | about a year ago | (#46204249)

He doesn't want to sue dell for unfairly treating VLC, he just wants his speaker repaired without obvious bullshit excuses.

Definitely Small Claims and/or BBB. (5, Interesting)

jrronimo (978486) | about a year ago | (#46204277)

I had a user whose laptop was replaced by Dell under warranty, except that they sent him back a 17" monstrosity rather than the 13" machine he had at the time. They wouldn't budget on giving him something smaller. After filing a small claims court case, they reimbursed him for the price of his original laptop and I think told him to keep the new one, too. He was happy after that.

Another friend had a HTC One phone whose screen popped and shattered while he was browsing twitter. HTC refused the replacement despite being a month old, claiming he dropped it. After filing a Better Business Bureau complaint, they replaced it under warranty.

Either way, something like that will get someone's eye and hopefully the original poster will be happy. The bigger problem is that this is a thing Dell will break a warranty over, which is ridiculous.

Join the slashdot farewell: (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46203857)

The Individual Midnight Thread - Farewell [slashdot.org]

I'm moving with all the great community of smart people and old-timers to http://www.altslashdot.org/ [altslashdot.org] (server will be up & running in few hours).

See you all great guys there!

BTW, slashdot is now being run by a bot. A new sory always appears by this command in cron:

26 */1 * * * FUCK_OLD_TIMERS.sh

Re:Join the slashdot farewell: (4, Insightful)

ernest.cunningham (972490) | about a year ago | (#46204011)

You don't speak for this old timer. Stop bloody ruining every thread with your immature anti-beta posts.
Beta is not ruining my time on Slashdot, YOU ARE!

Send your feedback via the email they they have provided and leave it at that. If they do not listen to your feedback, then feel free to vote with your feet, but stop ruining the site for everybody else.

ps. Why hide behind anonymity?

Re:Join the slashdot farewell: (-1, Offtopic)

Janek Kozicki (722688) | about a year ago | (#46204199)

Oh, I can burn my karma, no problem.

If you were paying attention you would know that from 10 to 17 february there is slashdot boycott (slashcott) in which people log off and can only browse anonymously to give dice holdings fewer requests from logged in users.

PS: doesn't that posting a new story exactly once per hour doesn't ring you a bell?

bad engineering? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46203861)

Any decent hardware engineer would not put out electronics for mass production that can be destroyed by software. Hopefully an EE from Levono or HP will reverse engineer the circuit and determine if the is bad engineering and put all of the information on the web. This may be the only way to get Dell to put out quality (or at least not defective) products into the marketplace.

Re:bad engineering? (3, Insightful)

arashi no garou (699761) | about a year ago | (#46203973)

I'm pretty sure Dell doesn't design the actual circuits on their boards, they just pick a chipset and ship off the parts list to their builder in Shenzhen or wherever. I'm willing to bet there was a mismatch between what the speaker could handle and what the audio chipset puts out. Some engineer somewhere cut a corner and didn't test it, and of course at build time all they check for is that sound is produced (this is Dell, not Apple; they don't care if it's great audio quality, just that it works long enough to make it into the shipping box).

That's all supposition on my part of course, but I'd put money on it being a mismatched speaker and chipset.

Re:bad engineering? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46204121)

You are "pretty sure" wrong –this is exactly the job of a company like Dell –to design the computer. They absolutely certainly do design the motherboard. They almost certainly start from an Intel reference design and adapt it, but they still definitely do do this stuff.

Re:bad engineering? (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about a year ago | (#46204283)

Why would they?
Nobody buys a Dell machine for the quality, so why bother trying to provide better quality than the cheapest possible?

Re:bad engineering? (5, Interesting)

inasity_rules (1110095) | about a year ago | (#46204049)

No, it is compromise engineering. Which is OK for a lot of consumer electronics. For example, most laptops won't have enough cooling to dissipate full load heat at maximum rated temperature. This isn't a design flaw, it is a compromise to allow the designer to get more peak performance out of the laptop(or more peak volume in a movie, for example). It is the same with, say gmail. Do you really think google could have supplied every user 1Gb of mail space at launch?

I personally don't do this sort of engineering, but I can see the reasoning. And if you are trying to push high volumes out of your laptop speaker, you probably should be carrying external speakers. There are physical limitations to systems designed to be portable.

Re:bad engineering? (1)

rudy_wayne (414635) | about a year ago | (#46204111)

Dell has a long and well documented history of poor quality products and even worse customer service. It wouldn't surprise me to find out that they used the cheapest, shittiest speakers possible, and, due to their shit quality, cannot handle the power output of the laptop's amplifier when driven at high volume.

Also, the article mentions setting VLC's volume to 200%. This was changed some time ago (version 2.0 I think) and VLC only goes up to a maximum of 125% now.

Re:bad engineering? (1)

xetovss (17621) | about a year ago | (#46204241)

It is not so much an issue with Dell, but an issue with the computer industry in general. On a previous notebook computer I used as my main notebook, a Thinkpad T21, it had a single speaker and at maximum volume it could be heard clearly throughout the house (granted while not a booming sound from true stereo speakers good enough for a notebook computer so I could keep hearing it as I moved about the house) and to this day sounds good with minimal distortion, however with a newer notebook, a Thinkpad T500, its speakers were starting to crackle after barely a year of usage. However the speakers that most computer manufactures are using nowadays are a lot cheaper so they limit the power that goes to them thereby limiting the volume and in some cases that can make watching a movie on the computer impossible without headphones, external speakers, or boosting the volume through EQ adjustments or the volume boost function of VLC.

This issue is not limited to Dell and IBM/Lenovo but is true for many manufactures computers, especially in notebooks without a premium audio option which include beefier speakers and sometimes an additional woofer speaker for better low range. The real fix would be to use a higher quality speaker that can take a little more power (I mean we are only talking about a few watts of power so how hard can it be). Therein lies the problem, with notebook computers being commodity products these days and the majority of buyers looking for the best price, the manufactures skimp on quality. Because of said skimping on quality leads people to use bandaid fixes which in turn exacerbates the issue and leads the already prematurely prone to failure speakers to fail even more prematurely.

Well, I sued... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46203865)

So to keep,a long story short, I had to sue Dell over a overheating Alienware M11x GAMING notebook.

I had a friendly but non helpful support case with Dell and a short also friendly but also non helpful discussion afterwards. Then I sued.

I won.

Re:Well, I sued... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46203905)

But did you really win? If you want to bring a small case against a large company, you're going to end up paying more in legal fees and time than it is worth.

Re:Well, I sued... (2)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | about a year ago | (#46203969)

Small claims court is $25 (where I'm at) and you go without a lawyer. $25 is the cost

Re:Well, I sued... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46204021)

If you're paying legal fees in small claims, you're doing it wrong.

As for time, if you put a monetary value on time other than when working for an employer on an hourly basis, you're doing it absolutely wrong.

Two options (5, Insightful)

synaptik (125) | about a year ago | (#46203867)

Option The First:
1. Buy Dell Laptop
2. Do first-use OS initialization, power down, remove HDD, store away in a safe place
3. Add new harddrive, install OS of choice
4. If at any time you have warranty service needs, swap original HDD back in

Option The Second:
1. Don't buy Dell

do not buy dell .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46203877)

I had a problem with a dell computer in the past, and I would never get any other never again

Here's some options... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46203881)

1) for class action you would need other people who had the same problem.

2) Go see a lawyer and bring the warranty service contract. You can take them to small claims court and possibly get a judgement simply because they aren't likely to show. Just keep track of your lawyer's billing rates, and the filing fees for small claims because you're going to need that info when comparing your time, effort and money against option #4 I list below.

3) Build a time machine and then go back in time and tell yourself to return the laptop for warranty service, and when they ask what's wrong, say "the speaker quit working, I have no idea why"

4) Or the real thing you can do hit a pillow and get the anger out. Then grumble about Dell to your friends and let them pat you on the shoulder. Then buy a pair of external speakers that aren't shitty, and don't stop worrying about small potatoes. Really man, it sucks to get screwed on a fine line of a warranty issue.. we've all been there. Let it go.

It happened to me too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46203887)

so i was watching INCEPTION with all that awesome sounds when movie started, i had no headphones, and guess what on speaker was blown out. Called dell, guy came to office replace the speaker.

I'm not sure what makes them not to do so in your case.

Dial the Volume up to 11! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46203897)

*unless you are using a Dell(TM)-branded speaker

physcial damage (4, Insightful)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about a year ago | (#46203899)

I don't know what VLC player is, but any laptop that allows its speakers to be damage by software has a design flaw. Why is it that companies will try their damnedest to screw their customers over until publicly shamed with a bad-pr article like this?

Re:physcial damage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46203949)

You must live under a rock.

Re:physcial damage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46204261)

Netherside rock dwellers are the wisest of all slashdot posters. This guy knows.

Re:physcial damage (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about a year ago | (#46203977)

Agreed. A computer should be able to perform any sequence of instructions the user can come up with. Otherwise it is not functioning as advertised.

Re:physcial damage (1)

mysidia (191772) | about a year ago | (#46204191)

Agreed. A computer should be able to perform any sequence of instructions the user can come up with.

What about the sequences of instructions that relate to the system BIOS or add-in card/peripheral components' EEPROM or flash ROM, and allow you to zero it, or flash it with bits of your choice?

Re:physcial damage (1)

jordanjay29 (1298951) | about a year ago | (#46204077)

I don't know what VLC player is

Well, this is the Internet. You could easily find out.

Re:physcial damage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46204167)

Read the links in the article. There are some good explanations. What VLC is doing is boosting the signal then clipping...a lot. This produces a much higher average amplitude damaging speakers primarily through heat damage. The phenomenon is not unique to Dell or VLC.

Re:physcial damage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46204189)

The rule of thumb is that without a robotic arm to smash itself with, no software can damage hardware.
Now it is true that there have been some RARE exceptions to this due to incompetent engineering, but that is a design flaw, and certainly not the users fault.
(By RARE, I mean that in the past 3-4 decades of computing, I'm only aware of 3 such issues that were real, and I used to deal with that kind of stuff for a living.)
It's kind of like having a car that loses all electricals if you press the brake all the way down. The designer F'd up, not the user.

The company is just trying to weasel out of the warranty and assumes the user will just bend over and take it.
I've seen companies blame software for hardware issues a LOT. To force them to do what's right, we've even had to conference call (us, user, manufacterer) together and point out exactly what is wrong with the hardware after the influence of software has been eliminated, and even then they still balked. Which was kind of funny as more often than not we were using techniques and knowledges their 'technical support personnel' didn't even comprehend despite them being basic hardware troubleshooting procedures. In short, most of them were list monkeys that had no idea what they were actually doing, they just followed the checklist.

This user might not have to resort to a lawsuit, but it may be best. Also, if he's said anything about a lawsuit to the company, it's about 99% probably he's no longer dealing with support, but rather with someone from legal. Companies are really picky about that, so don't throw out the lawyer threat unless you've already talked to one of your own.

Hey man... (1)

Chordonblue (585047) | about a year ago | (#46204257)

"The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and..." -This is Spinal Tap

After 30 years, the debate rages on - is '11' any louder than 10?

Dell is a four letter word. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46203907)

Enough said.

VLC's fault!?! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46203915)

Blame Rick Ruben before VLC.

beta = /. v4

They got nothing... (1)

djupedal (584558) | about a year ago | (#46203921)

It's their product and no proof you victimized it, unless using it at all isn't allowed. Escalate (with more noise) up the food chain, try another dealer, etc. until they realize keeping a customer happy is more valuable than a 22.1 cent speaker and the time to swap it/them out would ever be.

A "clipped" audio signal is still a valid signal (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46203933)

That's the beauty of a digital signal: You simply can't put in a stronger signal than the bits allow. Yes, a "clipped" signal has high energy harmonics, but the same harmonics could be encoded right in the audio source signal without additional player amplification. For example, using mp3gain to set a high gain on any MP3 file will cause the decoder to happily produce a clipped time domain signal. Even Windows Media Player will play it clipped. Designing an audio system such that it can't handle any signal you could put in a WAV file is just idiotic. Such penny-pinching certainly isn't the user's fault and would not void legally mandated warranties. Dell can of course exclude anything they like from a voluntary warranty, if they make it clear upfront what is excluded.


Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46203939)

Call a lawyer. That is all. Do not post another word. Do not speak publicly about it. Just pick up your phone, take your attorney's card out of your wallet, and dial the number.


TheRealMindChild (743925) | about a year ago | (#46203975)

You must be a lawyer


Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46204059)

Any sufficiently advanced lawyer is indistinguishable from a human.

VLC does not access the speakers directly (5, Insightful)

MpVpRb (1423381) | about a year ago | (#46203951)

..it uses Windows system calls which then call the sound driver

If the damage was caused by software, it's clearly the fault of the driver

VLC is too far up the stack to cause anything abnormal

Already in the law. (5, Informative)

Kaenneth (82978) | about a year ago | (#46203953)

Warrantors cannot require that only branded parts be used with the product in order to retain the warranty.[7] This is commonly referred to as the "tie-in sales" provisions,[8] and is frequently mentioned in the context of third-party computer parts, such as memory and hard drives.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M... [wikipedia.org]

Re:Already in the law. (1)

KingOfBLASH (620432) | about a year ago | (#46204099)

If that's true then a call to your friendly Attorney General's office should fix things right up.

Just don't do it (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year ago | (#46203957)

First of all, they mention VLC only because it happens to have a volume-clipping feature. There's nothing "destroying" about VLC per se, and Dell acknowledges this. Secondly, by booming your speakers with high volume and high-energy audio signal is just asking for trouble. I'm sure that many small tweeters would be damaged by that. You can always find corner cases like this from hardware. Task all CPU cores and all GPU shader units at the same time and many laptops will overheat.

Re:Just don't do it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46204019)

that is crap. hardware engineers should take into account all corner cases.

i remember an old apple 2 motherboard could be fried through a software loop. that was crap. this is crap if true.

Re:Just don't do it (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year ago | (#46204091)

It's just that speakers are analog, physical devices with a much higher robustness requirements when driven with an unusual, clipped signal. Why plan for that at all? There's really not much to do about that anyway. Surely you could engineer much tougher speakers that could take the torture but that would start to show in the price of the laptop already, a bit unnecessarily in my opinion. Please tell me if you know how to circumvent this problem.

Re:Just don't do it (2)

mysidia (191772) | about a year ago | (#46204273)

Please tell me if you know how to circumvent this problem.

A circuit to detect the clipped audio pattern or dangerous vibration pattern and shut off power to the speaker, or power limit it.

Re:Just don't do it (1)

mysidia (191772) | about a year ago | (#46204253)

Task all CPU cores and all GPU shader units at the same time and many laptops will overheat.

That's a defective product. The CPU and GPU units are engineered for a certain thermal capacity, and the product would be advertised as containing these CPUs and GPUs that have a certain number of cores, frequency, etc; the laptop itself must be engineered to handle them at full load, or apply a thermal limiting technology, otherwise the overheat condition when it occurs is a hardware product defect that results in inability to perform as advertised.

Bullcrap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46203959)

I call this bullcrap. All music nowadays is already compressed to death. The waveforms in the article suggest that tunes normally only reach the maximum value every once in a while. This is simply not the case with modern production. All music is compressed against 0 dB. If that would be problem than playing a regular cd would fry your speakers. The only thing that VLC allows you to do, is clip the audio tracks accompanying films, which are usually not as heavily compressed and may at time even be heard to hear over computer speakers.

Re:Bullcrap (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year ago | (#46204129)

That's true indeed. Modern compressed pop music is a very high-energy signal too, and playing that at 100% volume is something that a laptop should be able to handle.

Re: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46203963)

Send your laptop for repair without the hard drives.

Of Course you can use VLC for this. (2)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about a year ago | (#46203967)

You can damage speakers by putting too much sound through them. I do not know why there are not more safeguards, but this happens (at least for normal stereo system speakers).

So any program that allows you to increase the original file volume would only help you do this. Based on what I have seen with the quality of dell laptops, it probably is possible to break the speakers by pumping too much noise out of them, and using VLC to up the file volume could help you do this.

Re:Of Course you can use VLC for this. (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about a year ago | (#46204073)

yeah but for normal stereo system speakers (detached ones, not ones built into a boom box) you're also running an amp that provides high-watt power to them. the speakers are rated for a certain power, and you could attach an amp that provides too much power. If the hardware stack is ok, eg. the max amp output matches the max speaker input, then you should be able to turn the amp up to 11 with no problems.

separately, what does everybody mean about VLC doing clipping of the waveform for movies? I don't understand this.

Re:Of Course you can use VLC for this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46204197)

In a 16 bit audio signal, the amplitude has a maximum value of 32767. You can amplify a signal (multiply all samples by a fixed factor) such that some samples would end up beyond the amplitude range which can be encoded in 16 bits. Those samples are clipped, i.e. they're set to the maximum amplitude instead. This changes the waveform. In the frequency domain, it adds harmonics (high frequency components at multiples of the base frequency) which weren't in the original signal. These harmonics created by clipping tend to be high energy signal components which stress the speaker more than a "nice" signal. That said, there are artists which employ clipping to create their style, so there's really no excuse for building an audio system that can't handle sustained presence of strong high frequency signal components if you've got the whole chain in your hands (DA-converter, amplifier, speaker).

Re:Of Course you can use VLC for this. (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year ago | (#46204151)

I do not know why there are not more safeguards

Probably because the safeguards would have to be part of the analog amplification circuit, and anything extra that you put there will potentially hamper sound quality.

Slashdot denies user old website (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46203979)

Fuck Beta.

Mourning Slashdot ;( (-1, Offtopic)

zidium (2550286) | about a year ago | (#46203983)

This is my last post before the Slashcott tomorrow.

I have been an active and paying member of Slashdot for the better part of 15 years. I am already mourning its demise, as I view it is on its deathbed in terminal condition.

Slashdot is the abusive husband, it's users, the battered wife.

Slashdot says, "We're listening, we're listening."

As they bash our heads against the wall with such a horrible new system.

Please, please don't make the beta live for everyone, even if there is a (let's face it) temporary classic mode ;(

So is it be possible to record VLC output... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46203989)

So is it be possible to record VLC output and play it back with, say, windows media player?
Unless some players have filters for low frequency square wave or direct current component, they would play it like VLC.
Some sound card drivers could have this kind of filter. and Linux + VLC probably do not.
So Dell might have some point in this. Reason for this kind of design would be money. (surprise!)
It would be expensive to use components that can always handle the worst case for long times.

Re:So is it be possible to record VLC output... (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year ago | (#46204169)

It would be expensive to use components that can always handle the worst case for long times.


Slashdot them. (1)

michaelcole (704646) | about a year ago | (#46203991)

Facebook if you must. Then send them the link.

back that train up (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year ago | (#46203995)

The correct answer is: why the hell did you buy a Dell, you idiot? Buy a real laptop! The best 5 with the lowest defects are Asus, MSI, Toshiba, Samsung, Sony and they also have the highest rated support quality.

Re:back that train up (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about a year ago | (#46204085)

remember the commercials, dude you got a dell! that guy was funny.

Re:back that train up (1)

Rick Zeman (15628) | about a year ago | (#46204181)

The correct answer is: why the hell did you buy a Dell, you idiot? Buy a real laptop! The best 5 with the lowest defects are Asus, MSI, Toshiba, Samsung, Sony and they also have the highest rated support quality.

Apple. Best quality and best support.

Devil's advocate (2, Interesting)

kurkosdr (2378710) | about a year ago | (#46203997)

Playing the devil's advocate here, but most audio waveforms look like sine-waves (so to speak). Converting the waveform to a square-wave (what VLC's clipping does when you push the volume above 100%) puts a prolonged stress on the speakers even if you don't increase max output, which most speakers can't withstand. And the VLC dudes have helpfully mapped the volume controls to the scroll wheel, so you 'll probably push the volune above 100% accidentally. Thhe ability to push volume above 100% should be disabled by default IMO. Anyway, if your Dell fries speakers but can stilk boot, uninstall VLC and KM Player.

Re:Devil's advocate (-1, Flamebait)

kurkosdr (2378710) | about a year ago | (#46204183)

Wow! Downvoted already, no reply with refutation from the downvoter of course. Arrogant slashdot neckbeards have to stand for arrogant developers, because they code FOSS I guess. Where would FOSS be without arrogance amd overgrown infants (neckbeards) policing the internet?? (by downvoting of course, no refutation).

Not Dell's Fault Necessarily (1)

acm5fan (584611) | about a year ago | (#46204027)

Are you driving the audio past 100% ever? If you are, you are only distorting the signal before it hits the power amplifier. The more distortion that hits the voice coil and the spider, the more likely it is to be damaged by driving the amp and speaker hard. Class D amps should not be driven beyond 50% either as it only adds more and more distortion to the waveform produced at the speaker. Plug in an external for movie watching. If you are driving the amp at 100% and VLC volume at 200%, I wouldn't warrant you either. That's negligence. Good luck.

Re:Not Dell's Fault Necessarily (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46204109)

For the field of 'Hardware Engineering' to survive, the hardware must work no matter what the 'software' does. Otherwise electronics is 'hit and miss' and is useless. Why are you people accepting crap? Electronics can be high quality and inexpensive iff people have a taste for quality and even insist on it.

If it was a crap design then the engineer needs to be fired. I've met many competent hardware engineers that would not let crap like this (supposed) problem get out of the door.

Why don't people insist on quality instead of crap??

Re:Not Dell's Fault Necessarily (1)

kurkosdr (2378710) | about a year ago | (#46204147)

" you are driving the amp at 100% and VLC volume at 200%, I wouldn't warrant you either. That's negligence" I believe it's accidental, not on purpose. As i said in the post above yours, VLC has it's volume controls mapped to the scroll wheel, so you may accidentally push volume above 100% without realizing it. Especially if you use the touchpad. Stupid design decision (allow user to push volume above 100% by default) compounded by silliness (volume control mapped to the scroll wheel). But the VLC dudes have an arrogance measured in metric tonnes, so they 'll probably defend the scroll wheel thing, as they 've done in the past.

loudness war! (1)

Parafilmus (107866) | about a year ago | (#46204055)

If dell's speakers are damaged by playing clipped audio, couldn't the same damage be caused by playing a poorly-mastered CD?

eg: http://mastering-media.blogspo... [blogspot.com]

Beta killed my family. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46204063)


Screw Dell, Screw Beta (-1, Offtopic)

runeghost (2509522) | about a year ago | (#46204079)

Dell is blaming a (quality) product they don't like for their own failings. Dice (and its supporters) are blaming unhappy Slashdot users for the problems Dice.com has created with the tone-deaf Beta.

Why would you do this? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46204135)

1- Why would you want to drive your laptop speakers that hard?
2- Reading the explanation of what VLC player is doing on the linked forum, why would someone want to listen to boosted, clipped audio?

- I know it's fun to bash Dell as the bad guy, but VLC is basically hacking the audio playback to get much higher average amplitude. So Dell's options are to -
a) Over-engineer the speakers to be able to handle higher output than the system would be able to deliver in normal circumstances so it can handle VLC. This would of course increase cost.
b) Artificially limit the volume in normal conditions so the speakers can handle the boosted/clipped output. This would decrease normal volume.
c) Have some sort of VLC (or similar) blocking logic in the firmware or driver. In which case Slashdotters would be up in arms at Dell blocking functionality of some poor third party player.

Cinema speakers can be damaged too (5, Interesting)

innocent_white_lamb (151825) | about a year ago | (#46204139)

You would think that cinema speakers (those big honkin' speakers that sit behind the screen at the movie theatre - mine are about about six feet tall but there are many larger than that) would be impervious to damage but some movies occasionally overdrive the speakers to a point that the drivers are damaged. The most recent one that I'm aware of is Paranormal Activity 2: The Marked Ones, where there was 7 seconds of high pitched buzzing on reel 4 that could destroy the speakers.

Here is an email from Paramount that describes the problem:

Dear Projectionist,
Paramount has had reports of speaker damage from some theatres playing PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE MARKED ONES. In several cases we have been able to research, the volume had been turned up to high levels at patronsâ(TM) requests.

We are currently working to get information on speaker/amplifier brand and model to see if any particular combination of hardware might be more susceptible to damage. At this time, most of the damaged speakers have been identified as JBL model 4632â(TM)s, but this is preliminary data.

We are also working on an audio patch which may lessen the potential for damage.

For the time being, please do not set your volume at a high level on this film.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Technicolor sent out a new soundtrack for that movie without the 7 seconds of buzzing and as far as I know that solved the problem.

The point here is that even high-end cinema audio systems can be damaged by a poorly engineered soundtrack, so I'm not surprised to find that the speakers in a cheap laptop could be damaged the same way.

Re:Cinema speakers can be damaged too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46204231)

I would never blame the users of hardware for the hardware failings. You make electronics seem like flaky things and are untrustworthy.

The only untrustworthy jerk that is to blame is the person who calls himself a 'hardware engineer' and who is actually a fraud raking in a bunch of cash using limited knowledge.

One louder (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46204143)

C'mon, everybody knows that VLC is one louder than the rest.

Sorry for the Offtopic (0, Offtopic)

excelsior_gr (969383) | about a year ago | (#46204149)

Sorry for the Offtopic comment, but I thought I'd put this out there just before the anti-Beta boycott officially starts:

Whoever posts stories, comments, moderates or meta-moderates the coming week using the classic Slashdot interface is a hypocrite.

If you like the Beta or couldn't care less about it, then you should use it actively and prove by your participation that you accept it. I think we can be democratic about it and let the community choose. If the comment sections of the articles look alive and well by next Monday, this will mean that the community chose Beta. If AC comments are listening to the crickets, this will mean that the comments are by passer-bys and the actual community chose Classic.


Re:Sorry for the Offtopic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46204251)

AC commentators are part of the community too. Where would Slashdot be without us? Stop laughing.

Slashdot (Beta)* Nuke Option - Email CEO (0)

esten (1024885) | about a year ago | (#46204163)

1. Email CEO of Dell, Michael Dell (Michael@dell.com) with your problems with customer service. Link to Slashdot articles

2. Have Slashdot email CEO, crash email server?

* Mention beta to get troll comments and/or everyone's attention

I tip the repairguy. (4, Interesting)

megabeck42 (45659) | about a year ago | (#46204201)

I always include a $20.00 and a note when I send a laptop in for repair. In the note I explain exactly what I'd like done. Always works with Lenovo.

Too much amplifier... (1)

unitron (5733) | about a year ago | (#46204237)

...kills woofers.

Not enough amplifier kills tweeters, because clipping produces high-frequency (as in higher than you can hear) square waves and the tweeters cannot respond to that high a frequency and so the energy is turned into heat instead of air movement and it burns out their voice coils.

Maybe that's what Dell is trying to say happened here.

If I were a lawyer (1)

SpaghettiPattern (609814) | about a year ago | (#46204265)

If I were a lawyer I'd provide you with legal advice. And charge you for it of course.

This is not software, it is wrong design (1)

NuclearCat (899738) | about a year ago | (#46204271)

In case Dell used speakers that are not rated even for their motherboard amplifier - it is trivial to detect audio clipping that VLC cause, just a plain resistor and current sensing circuit, or a comparator on output circuit and it will be easy to shut it, before speaker got damaged.
In car industry it will be a recall and faulty items will be replaced by modified ones, with "bugfix".
But it is very known - freaks like HP and Dell prefer to charge customers for each sneeze, and as soon as you paid and took your product - you are on your own. No bugfixes, no support, no improvements.
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