I have to give a shout out to John at Allegience Technology Partners for providing the LE1600 for evaluation and then giving me free reign to install whatever I want (it gets Ubuntu next). While the Windows 7 install was no walk in the park, now that it’s there, everything I need works. My suspicions that SmartMusic’s poor playback might be OS related turned out to be true. I can now say that it’s actually XP that’s garbage for SmartMusic performance. On exactly the same hardware it went from pitifully unusable to running just fine, and all I did was upgrade the OS to Windows 7.
The other thing that improved dramatically was the anti-aliasing in Windows Journal. At least I think that’s what it is - whatever smooths the lines of the staff actually works in Windows 7. My music went from looking like a bad photo copy to being perfectly clear. I have not changed the files themselves at all, the only change is that now I’m opening them with Journal on Windows 7. Perfectly clear. Beautiful.