Lifebook S6510 - Part 3; Networking, Software and Drivers

I have continued to make good progress in moving to the new Lifebook S6510. I am still crazy about it, despite some minor hiccups.
Written by J.A. Watson, Contributor

I have continued to make good progress in moving to the new Lifebook S6510. I am still crazy about it, despite some minor hiccups.

The biggest progress has been in moving over utilities and application software. Basically, everything I have tried to move so far has gone very smoothly. That includes the Cisco VPN Client and the Swisscom Unlimited Data Manager, which in the past have been two of the most troublesome utilities, especially on Vista. Of course, there are still a few things that don't exist or aren't supported properly under Vista, and I'm having to work around or do without them, but none of them has been a major inconvenience quite yet. I'm planning to write one more time about Vista and XP, making a side-by-side comparison of the S2110, now running very nicely with XP Professional, and the S6510 with Vista.

The new area of investigation is networking. I picked up a new router on Monday, a Linksys WRT350N, which is supposed to do Wireless-N and Wired Gigabit. I was able to confirm that the wired ethernet connection came up right away at 1.0 Gb, but as yet I apparently haven't been able to get a Wireless-N connection. I say "apparently" because when I check the connection status, it doesn't explicitly say Wireless "N", "G" or whatever, it only gives the connection speed. So far it has only been 54 Mb, which is certainly Wireless-G speed (and the same speed that the S2110 connects with). Of course, this is still very early days for Wireless-N, and all of the routers and adapters are described as being "draft Wireless N" compatible. That often leads to differences in implementation and compatibility problems, so perhaps that is what I am up against here. I am in a chat with Fujitsu support right now, trying to find out if I can get Wireless-N working. If that fails, I'll move on to Linksys support. The good news is that both of them have "live chat" support lines, so at least I can get help without waiting endlessly on the telephone.

This may turn out to be a driver problem on the Lifebook, or firmware in the Linksys router. I have gotten a couple of questions about my first comment on driver updates, so I will explain a bit more now. A laptop computer in particular is often a tricky situation with drivers. While the laptop is built mostly from standard components, such as the CPU, graphic controller and display, audio controller, network controllers and so on, those components may be put together (integrated) differently by each different manufacturer, and the drivers may be modified by the laptop manufacturer because of that. So you need to be careful about updating a laptop with drivers that you have downloaded from a component suppliers site.

On the other hand, laptop manufacturers can be very slow about making updated drivers available, and the changes and bug fixes made in new drivers by the component suppliers can be important. So there are often times when you really want, or absolutely need, to update a driver. My general rule is, check the laptop support site first, and then the component suppliers sites, and compare what the two have available.

The Lifebook S6510 seems to be a bit of a special case, just because it is so new. There is practically nothing on the Fujitsu support web site for it; a BIOS update, which was already installed on mine, and a driver update for Windows XP, which doesn't interest me because I'm running Vista. So I went through the Windows Device Manager and determined the suppliers of all of the major components, and then went to each suppliers site looking for driver updates. Here are the results:

Graphic display - Mobile Intel 965 Chipset: Newer drivers are available from Intel, but they will not install on the S6510. This is typical of the problem I mentioned above.

WebCam - Logitech: I still haven't been able to figure out exactly what model of Logitech camera is integrated in this system. Newer drivers are certainly available from Logitech, since this one has 10.5.x and Logitech is currently on 11.5.x, but the drivers from Logitech do not support OEM cameras, it is up to the laptop manufacturer to make updated drivers avaiable.

Touchpad - Synaptics: Updated driver installed

Wireless adapter - Intel WiFi Link 4965AGN: Updated driver installed

Wired Network adapter - Marvell Yukon Gigabit: Updated driver installed

Audio - Realtek High Definition: Updated driver installed

Whenever you install an updated driver, be prepared to go back to the previous version if there is a problem. If you are able to install the driver "on top of" the existing driver, meaning that you don't have to uninstall the existing driver first, you can always go back by going to Windows Device Manager and choosing "roll back driver". If you are forced to remove the existing driver first, such as with the Realtek driver, make sure that you either have an "approved" driver from the laptop manufacturers web site, or you have the driver CD that came with the laptop. If you don't have one of these ways of going back, I would strongly advise you not to risk updating a driver.

jw 3/1/2008

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