I did the reinstall and this time carefully tracked all changes I made in customizing the system. I found that when I changed the ATI display from 1920 x 1200 to 1280 x 800 I lose the volume meter. When I go back to 1920 etc., the volume meter returns. Is this indicative of the 8600 for everyone else?
Secondly, when I play games with the AC adapter plugged in, after about 5-10 minutes of play, my screen becomes distorted, filling up with lines (like interference of some kind). When I unplug the AC, the screen returns to normal. I contacted Dell Cust Support and the rep suggested changing the power scheme to "always on" (the problem still occurred). Next, she noticed that I received a 60 watt AC adapter, while she stated that I should have received a 90 instead. She shipped the 90 off and I received it the next day (yeah, fast and unanticipated that I would receive it so soon). Anyways, I used it, but when I powered up the notebook, right before the initial setup F2 screen appeared it read, "AC adapter not recognized. . . you will lose some normal performance. . ." or something stated to that degree. The cord powered up the system, but it was not recharging the battery like the 60 does when in use. Again, I called Dell cust serv, and they feel that for that message to appear, there must be some problem with the mother board and have dispatched a service tech. to visit within the next few days to replace the current mother board. The screen still becomes distorted even when using the 90 watt after about 5-10 minutes of game play. If anyone else out there in lappy land has experience this, let me know what the issues could be or how you resolved them.
Still happy with the laptop, though. Learning more about being outside and using the wireless card to access the web.