I have been buying sound cards for a loooooong time – my first add-on card was for a 512K Amsdrad PC512 and it produced either MIDI-based sound or replicated sample audio. It was not a cheap purchase at the time – I can’t remember the price any more, but it was quite a bit of savings at the time.
It came with a literal ‘wodge’ of 5.25" driver diskettes. you could use it to steady a table there were so many of them.
Later on, the disks changed to 3.5". This meant that they were thicker than the older disks, and amounted to a pile that simply got progressively larger. By the purchase of my last soundblaster card, I was looking at IIRC 10 disks, only a few of which were usable for drivers for DOS, the remainder were ‘assistant’ programs such as Dr. Sbaitso, which were to purposes useless.
I spent a long time kind-of caring about my sound card. I bought an SB live card for my main desktop and for several years things just worked. About 2 years ago got an SoundBlaster X-Fi card for notebooks for my Dell Insipron M1710. Honestly, the internal card was better than the add-on card. I didn’t really care as I paid for it in Yen, so it didn’t count towards cost.
In the last 6 months I bought a new rig. Reasonable price, and harkening back to my memories, I got an SB X-Fi XtremeGamer card. Not a large outlay (<€80). It no longer comes with a wodge of disks – it downloads software and updates from the internet.
The smallest update for this software seems to be 50MB. The sum total of the latest software update (to fix problems and to increase compatibility on Vista) is 235MB. I am 44MB into the update and I’m being told that there’s another 2.5 hours to go. I’m not on a slow link either. It just seems to be on their side.
Just to put this into perspective – The download for my soundcard is about 1/2 the size of a reasonable Linux distro… and it’s as slow as a wet weekend in June. By the time this update has downloaded I could have watched the entirety of the latest Harry Potter movie and still had time for a pint. It’s damned slow.
This is a sound card. Not the World Management Software Suite®. The update for my graphics card was 90MB and that was Driver + Support Software + PhysX Drivers. And it downloaded in less than 10 minutes.
Now that I recall, all the problems I seemed to have on the older machine could always be traced to limitations or issues with my sound card. A driver that wasn’t playing by the rules. Maybe it thought it was being edgy? I’ve seen too many BSODs to want edgy. I just want something that works…. and doesn’t need a 250MB update (that’s twice the size of OpenOffice)…
Oh, and Windows Live Writer — please convert euro, trademark and em-dash symbols before posting… we’re not all using UCS-16 encoding here. Some of us actually try to use the web in a platform independent manner…