grtdrgn
1 Copper

New Dell Inspiron 1764: Issues with low signal connecting to wireless networks.

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I have a brand new Dell Inspiron 1764 laptop that I received on the 25th of June. It is "replacing" a Dell Inspiron 9100 that has gotten to be too slow and bulky for my needs. For support purposes, both laptops are running on Windows 7.

Overall, I love my new Inspiron 1764. However, I have noticed seriously degraded connection/signal strength with the wireless card (Dell Wireless 1397 WLAN Mini-card) compared to my Inspiron 9100 (Dell Wireless 1350 WLAN Mini-PCI card).

In areas of my house that my 9100 can get full signal strength (5 bars), my new 1764 is getting 2 or fewer bars. This behavior is also not limited to only my house, as I have tested it at my job and in an area less than 10 feet away from the wireless router, I have "Internet connectivity problems".

I tried twice this morning to speak with Dell support. The first person I spoke to tried to be helpful and at least initiated a DellConnect session with me so that they could check some of my settings and such (however, why they went twice into my sharing settings I could not determine since they have absolutely nothing to do with signal strength.)

Unfortunately, I was disconnected from the session when I went to an area that had less signal than right next to my wireless router.

I then got back on chat support with Dell and received another technician to speak with. I explained my problem, told them that I was in a DellConnect session with the other technician, and they looked up my support contract.

They then told me that my warranty does not cover software issues and referred me to the software department and told me it would be an extra charge. I told them that I did not believe it to be a software issue in any way, shape, or form. They told me that it must be a setting issue. I have since spent several hours scouring the internet forums on Dell and other websites checking people who have had similar issues. Some of their issues were admittedly from software settings, but I have still yet to find anything that indicates to me that I have an incorrect software setting.

As of this writing, I am standing in my kitchen, typing on my Inspiron 9100 with a full 5 bars, while my Inspiron 1764 sits next to me with a measly 2 bars, and I am literally standing 7 feet above the room that houses my Linksys WRTU54G-TM router.

Personally, I suspect a faulty wireless card, but how do I convince Dell to hear my case and replace it rather than trying to bilk me for unneeded software support?

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anatoly79
1 Copper

Re: New Dell Inspiron 1764: Issues with low signal connecting to wireless networks.

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I am hoping Dell Tech Support actually reads this post, or people with the same issue can refer Dell to my previous post describing the problem and the fix.

IT IS A HARDWARE PROBLEM WITH THE ANTENNA, AND MOST LIKELY THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A BRIDGED CONNECTION TO THE PLATE ANTENNA, VERSUS INDIVIDUAL FOIL TAPE CONNECTIONs TO THE PLATE ANTENNA, WHICH DELL MUST HAVE REDESIGNED BETWEEN WHEN MINE LAPTOP WAS MADE AND THE REPLACEMENT PART WAS MADE. THE PROBLEM IS NOT THE SOFTWARE, ISP, OR ROUTER, IT IS THE PLASTIC CASE WITH THE ANTENNA!!!! 

Dell is actually wasting more money with hours of tech support going through software fixes and sending out techs with new wireless cards that don't fix the problem. They need to send and replace the plastic case behind the LCD with the updated antenna and connections.

Good Luck!

L123456
1 Copper

Re: New Dell Inspiron 1764: Issues with low signal connecting to wireless networks.

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INTERNET WIRELESS VERY SLOW I know exacly how must feel!! I JUST BOUGHT A DELL INSPIRON 5 MONTHS AGO. I DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT COMPUTERS I HAVE TO ADMIT. BUT I HAVE NOTICE THAT MY INTERNET WIRELESS CONECTION THROUGH MY AIRPORT EXTREME ROUTER IS VERY SLOW. I DID A SPEED TEST IN A MAC AND DID ONE IN THE INSPIRON, VERY MUCH A DIFERENCE. MAC SPEED WAS 18.5 AND THE DELL WAS .85. NO WONDER???? I CALL DELL AND THEY TOLD ME THAT I DID NOT HAVE A SOFTWARE WARRANTY OMG!!!!! I JUST GOT THE COMPUTER..... I AM STILL PAYING FOR IT!!!!!! DELL WANTS TO SELL ME A ONE YEAR SOFTWARE WARRANTY FOR 239.OO FOR 1 YR.... WOW!!!! JUST SO THEY CAN DO AN UPDATE ON THE NETWORK AND FILE FOLDER.... WHY AN UPDATE I JUST GOT THE COMPUTE?????.....I SHOULD NOT HAVE ANY PROBLEMS WITH THIS COMPUTER OR AT LEAST DELL SHOULD GIVE ME SUPPORT FOR A YEAR ON ANY OF THEIR PRODUCTS.... WHAT A WAY TO SCREW YOU OVER, SORRY FOR MY ENGLISH... I AM VERY UPSET.... PLEASE DON'T BY A DELL BEST BUY SOLD ME THIS PRODUCT, ACCORDING TO THEM THE BEST FOR THE PRICE.... REALLY????? CUSTOMER SERVICE AT DELL IS TERRIBLE... I CAN'T UNDERSTAND CUSTOMER SERVICE REPRESENTATIVE WITH THEIR ACCENTS???? VERY FRUSTRATING... CAN WE EVER TALK TO REPRESENTATIVE FROM THE UNITED STATES???? SHOP AROUND COMPUTERS BEFORE YOU GET STUCK WITH A DELL AND NOBODY (DELL) CAN HELP YOU WITH UPDATES WITHOUT CHARGING 100'S OF DOLLARS.

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Mary G
5 Iridium

Re: New Dell Inspiron 1764: Issues with low signal connecting to wireless networks.

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Open the Dell WLAN Wireless Utility (type it in the Start box) to see if you are connecting to your own wireless network. You could be connecting to a neighbor's unsecured network instead of your own. Check everything to verify your settings--channel, passwords, available networks etc. The Win 7 Network and Sharing Center can help verify the settings. You should have used the Network Connection Wizard to set up your connection.

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grtdrgn
1 Copper

Re: New Dell Inspiron 1764: Issues with low signal connecting to wireless networks.

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Thank you for your reply, Mary, but no, this is not a solution to my issue. For one thing, I know that I am connecting to my own network since I have a unique SSID, and I have WPA-PSK security with TKIP set up on my router. Also, the wireless network I connect to at work is the only wireless network within range. I did verify during the course of troubleshooting that I am connecting only to my own network. In fact, on my previous laptop, I used to be able to see my neighbor's networks. With this one, I am not. That is how poor the range and reception on this laptop is.

I probably should have mentioned before that I am a computer technician by trade and training. As I did mention, I looked at various forums for several hours for known issues relating to my problem. I do not use the Dell WLAN utility as it is useless bloatware. The Windows wireless serves my purposes just fine.

One other thing that has come to my mind as a possibility is that rather than a faulty card, it is possible that the antenna are not fully attached within the system to the card, or even that a connection may have come loose during shipping. I will take a look at Dell's resources online to determine how to access the network card on this model and see. If this does not resolve my issue, then I will be contacting Dell's Customer Service for a resolution to my problem since it has only been approximately a week since I received this laptop.

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dclax
1 Copper

Re: New Dell Inspiron 1764: Issues with low signal connecting to wireless networks.

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I'm having the exact same problem with my brand new Dell Inspiron 1440.  I've tried everything, and also rejected the "it's your software, so can you pay us $120 for a one time 'fix.'"  Has your problem been solved?  I'm taking the CA Bar in a week and need to be able to connect to the internet to upload my exam answers.  Any help would be very very appreciated.

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LONTJC
1 Nickel

Re: New Dell Inspiron 1764: Issues with low signal connecting to wireless networks.

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I'm having the same problem with my new Inspiron 1564.   Wireless signal degrades unless within 10 feet of router.    I also bought a new Inspiron 1545 for another family member at the same time.   When I put them side by side the wireless signal on the 1545 is twice as strong as the more expensive 1564.    Both have the same 1397 minicard.   I used the wireless utility to check the settings and they are identical except for the MAC address.    I tried updating the router's firmware and resetting factory defaults to no avail.    I'm at my wit's end!   Can anyone help? 

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grtdrgn
1 Copper

Re: New Dell Inspiron 1764: Issues with low signal connecting to wireless networks.

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Alright, y'all, I have gone through a bunch of different things trying to get my issue fixed. I seem to have found an at least "partial" solution.

First, let me say that Dell has been absolutely no help in this process, even though I have talked to a couple of representatives whom I believe were honestly trying their best to help me. After going through so many attempts to get help, I finally gave up and decided to go my own route.

On an unrelated note, I had some issues with my Windows installation which were probably due to malware I picked up somewhere along the line. To me this was not a big deal, since I don't keep much as far as data on my laptop. This led me to reload Windows and start reloading my drivers and software. Now here is where I figured out my "partial" solution.

You see, when I reloaded Windows, I didn't reinstall all my drivers immediately, partially due to the fact that most drivers require a reboot after installation, so it is a time-consuming process to say the least. However, I noticed that Windows 7's default wireless network driver loaded and I was able to access the internet, through my wireless network, so I wasn't immediately concerned with upgrading the wireless driver. I proceeded to upgrade my other drivers, and install the minimum personal software that I require (Mozilla Firefox, and OpenOffice.org) During the process, I took my laptop upstairs so I could watch some TV while I was loading software.

My router is downstairs in my office and previously when I noticed how low my signal was on this laptop, it had dropped from 5 bars to 1 just in the process of moving from my office to the kitchen which is literally on top of the office. This time, my signal dropped from 5 to 3 bars when going past the kitchen and into the living room. I was pleasantly surprised to say the least.

I rebooted the laptop during the process of installing software, but the wireless signal still remained at 3 bars. I tested my internet connection, and while it was admittedly slow, it was an improvement over getting a message that the web page could not be found which is the message I received when the signal only showed 1 bar.

This got me thinking, and I went ahead and installed the Dell Wireless driver and software, rebooted the system, and guess what? Bam, 1 bar. I had to walk back downstairs to the doorway of my office for the signal to increase beyond 2 bars, and at that point it shot back up to 5 bars.

So, I walked back upstairs to the couch, sat with my laptop in hand, and started my own version of trial and error diagnostics. I rolled the driver back to the Windows default driver, rebooted the system, and checked my signal. Back up to 3 bars. Okay, so far so good. Try the Dell driver again and reboot. Back down to 1 bar again. Rolled back again, rebooted, 3 bars. Okay, I decide to try the updated Broadcom driver from Windows Update, since I'm feeling daring now. I download and install it, reboot, and 1 bar again.

Oh, and something I forgot to mention previously... with the Windows default driver, I can see several other wireless networks in range (neighbors' networks), but when I load either Dell's or Broadcom's driver, the only network visible is mine.

So I reverted back to Windows driver again, and have not had any significant issues with my wireless signal since then.

Now here's what I find funny. Dell tells me it's a software issue and they can fix it for an extra charge. I think to myself that this doesn't seem like a software issue, at least not as far as a setting. Turns out that Dell and I are both right. It's not a setting issue, but it does appear to be a software issue in the vein of faulty drivers.

Hope this novel helps someone else to avoid some of the issues I've encountered in the process of fixing this issue that has existed with this laptop since the first day I got it, and this laptop is less than 2 months old.

Oh, and for those of you curious as to the exact driver information for the Windows default wireless driver I'm referring to, Device Manager shows driver version is 4.176.75.21, driver date 10/1/2008, Dell Wireless 1397 WLAN Mini-Card.

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LONTJC
1 Nickel

Re: New Dell Inspiron 1764: Issues with low signal connecting to wireless networks.

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I'm desperate to try this.  How do I go about finding the Windows default wireless driver to which you refer above and how to I switch from the current Broadcom driver?    Sorry for the "drivers for dummies" question but I'm absolutely  "non-techie".

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grtdrgn
1 Copper

Re: New Dell Inspiron 1764: Issues with low signal connecting to wireless networks.

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Not a problem, LON. It should be fairly simple. Pull up your Start menu and right-click on Computer. Choose Manage from the menu. You will probably have to click "Allow access" or something similar in the UAC (User Account Control) box that will pop up. I don't remember the exact verbage as I disable UAC at the earliest opportunity on my computers.

This should bring up the window for "Computer Management". In the left pane, you should see "Device Manager". Click on it and the right pane will change. Double-click on Network Adapters and right-click your Dell Wireless 1397... and choose Properties.

In the Properties dialog box, choose the tab for Driver. Take note of the information on this screen. The Driver Provider, the Driver Date, and Driver Version. You may want to write these down somewhere, just in case.

Mine shows:

Driver Provider: Microsoft, Driver Date: 10/1/2008, Driver Version: 4.176.75.21

Below this information, you will see several buttons. The one you are looking for is "Roll Back Driver". Hopefully this is not "greyed out" and you can simply click the button. Windows will probably pop up another UAC window, choose accept or allow and Windows should do its thing. You will probably be prompted for a reboot. Go ahead and do so.

When the system reboots, return to Device Manager and check the driver version and provider. If it is the same info as I have above, you should be good to go. If it is something different/newer, then see if it will allow you to Roll Back again. If not, you may need to try "Uninstall", but this would lead to a more complicated process in which you would probably have to "update" the driver yourself.

Let me know if rolling back works for you.

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LONTJC
1 Nickel

Re: New Dell Inspiron 1764: Issues with low signal connecting to wireless networks.

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I had no problem with the above steps until I got to "Roll Back Driver" which, unfortunately, IS "greyed out".    I presume this means going the uninstall route?   Is there somewhere on Microsoft.com that I can go to download the driver you are using or another suitable default driver which I could then "update" myself?   

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ACE51
1 Copper

Re: New Dell Inspiron 1764: Issues with low signal connecting to wireless networks.

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since Dell won't give any support... Are there any other wireless cards (preferably not manufactured by dell) that are better and that will plug in replace of the 1520n card?

 

How frustrating 

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