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The Asus R2H and the New Vista Drivers: Not Quite a Success Story Part I



Asus_r2hIt has been no secret that I have been living my Asus R2H life on the bleeding edge after installing Vista. I’ve been using XP drivers when they work and going without some functionality when they don’t. Since this isn’t my main device I’ve been reasonably content to experiment up to this point, even though I’ve found the delay in releasing the drivers and the lack of guidance very frustrating.

I spent the weekend installing the new and much delayed Vista drivers now available for the Asus R2H. I wish I could say that the Vista is clear on the R2H, but it is not, based on my experience and what I’m hearing from others. Some things work. Some things don’t. Some things just make no sense whatsoever. In this post I’ll outline what steps I took along the driver install path and list what is working (some things do work much better, some things don’t) and what doesn’t work at all. Keep in mind this is based primarily on my one man’s experience here, combine with information learned from other users and their travails. Yes, your mileage may vary.

The Install Process

Before reinstalling Vista Ultimate, I flashed the BIOS to the newer version 206 that is intended for Vista. You can flash that with either the XP or the Vista WinFlash utility now available on the site. Since I’ve installed a variety of XP drivers and Vista updates from Intel along the way, I decided to wipe the slate clean (so to speak) and start fresh. If you’ve been doing the same, I would recommend that as a step. After all of that testing the R2H would randomly crash on boot ups or returning from hibernate or sleep (a problem several others report) I figured this was due to driver issues and cleaning things out was the best way to make sure that I had a chance of eliminating that behavior.

I then downloaded all the drivers that are currently available. You can find a list of them in this post. Note: the Asus site is notoriously flaky. On one visit all of the files will be there and on your next visit they won’t. Good friend Josh Einstein speculates that this has to do with the site probably being a web cluster. I have no idea what that is, but true or not it brings to mind a certain military analogy that in some ways describes this situation. Even if you’re lucky enough to see the files the flakiness continues as both the Global and US links often time out. I suggest using the Japanese site as it was the most consistent in mine and others experience.  I also turned off Windows Update after the reinstall of Vista to keep from pulling in any updates that might intefere before I had a chance to get the new drivers installed and tested.

It is very unfortunate (as I mentioned in this post) that Asus, and other OEMs, don’t provide some sort of documentation about what drivers are what. It leaves you guessing at times with the file names that only a geek could love. While the occasional file on the Asus download site will tell you to install another file first, there is no logical sequence laid out for the end user. Here is the sequence I used:

  1. INFUpdate Vista 061122 (still listed as a beta?)
  2. ATKDrv_vista32_070315 (required before installing wireless console and drivers)
  3. ATKMedia_Vista32bit_070125 (not sure what this does)
  4. ATKOSD2_Vista32bit_070126 (speculation from others is that this enables hardware buttons)
  5. ASUS_Setting_Center_vista_070315 (I have no idea what this is)
  6. Wireless_Console_Vista_070307 (Asus site says this should be installed before wireless lan drivers)
  7. WLAN_Asus_WL_159G_vista_070315 (wireless drivers)
  8. VGA_Vista 070315 (graphics drivers)
  9. TouchPad_Vista 32_64_ 070125 (for the joystick)
  10. Audio_Vista_070315 (audio drivers)
  11. Bluetooth_vista_070212 (bluetooth drivers)

UPDATE: See this post on a new and improved install order that solved quite a few issues.

Of the drivers currently available what is listed above are what I needed to run the R2H. The others (discussed later) were for non-essential utilities and functions.

Fortunately, Vista creates a Restore Point before installing each of the above drivers (except the INF update), which allows you to rollback if necessary. You’ll do a lot of rebooting.

After installing the above I had basic functionality in Vista on the Asus R2H.

  • I can navigate with ease using the hardware buttons, the stylus, or a finger. The TouchPad drivers vastly speed up the movement of the cursor (almost too fast but you can throttle it back to your liking.) A tip I picked up from WNewquay is that you can now simulate a double-click by tapping twice on the joystick button. Occasionally the digitizer will still quit and you can’t use touch, necessitating a reboot.
  • I can rotate the screen, but changing screen resolution is a problem. While I can adjust it to a higher resolution, I lose the ability to fall back to the native 800X480 resolution of the device unless I do some tweaking in the device properties (Thanks WNewquay for that tip.) In higher screen resolutions you must use “pan and scan” to view the entire screen.
  • Audio is working well on both playback and recording with the microphone. This was a big issue before. There is a distinct pop in the speakers when you turn the unit off or go into hibernate.
  • My Bluetooth devices connect and perform well and the LED indicator for Bluetooth does indeed light up now. Intriguingly the WiFi indicator does not.
  • Wireless works well and I’ve seen none of the random shutoffs that I had experienced before. In fact, it appears to be much snappier. I still have no control over the button on top of the unit that allowed you to turn on and off the WiFi and Bluetooth radios.
  • In all of the rebooting through the installation process and testing, I never experienced one random crash on startup.

So the basic functions of the device are working with some of the quirks that existed before the new drivers still in place. The biggest improvement so far, is that I don’t experience the random crashes on start up and with audio. In the next part of this series, I’ll continue the adventure with the other utilities and functionality that make the Asus different than the other devices on the maket. That post will be up later today. 

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