well, ive figured it out, finally! i updated everything applicable from the dell website, ive also downloaded a firmware update not available at dell (which makes my internal drive make scary noises but...) and i can now view 6 out of the 10 data dvds i made using nero. unfortunately, my favorites of the batch are on the coasters, which was my problem (it wasnt that the internal player couldnt read the data disks, i just kept trying coasters Sony by Sony was crap for the external player. TDK by TDK was half crap for the internal player... Thank You for the dvdidentifier!! so. its time to stop shopping at staples and comp usa... get myself some REAL media! taking scuba's advice i have found the following at http://store.yahoo.com/meritline/ritek-dvd-blank-media.html Ritek Ridata G05 8X DVD-R (Ridata Branded) Blank Media 4.7GB for General Use DVDR Disc 50, 100, 200, 500 Pack As Low As $0.45 each Plus Free Ground Shipping 50 pack $27.00 100 pack, Save $5 With Coupon: WM5OFF BUT, there have been complaints about meritline on other boards here... sending wrong items, refusals to make it right, and higher than previous coaster ratios... on that thread, newegg was mentioned as reliable, so i went there and found http://www.newegg.com/app/SearchProductResult.asp?Submit=Go&DEPA=0 RIDATA 8X 4.7GB DVD-R Media, 50 PK Cakebox Model DRD-478-RDCB50, Retail **This item may only be returned for a replacement of the same make/model. (limit 10 per customer) Capacity: 4.7GB Type: DVD-R Speed: 8X Features: Provide an outstanding reliable storage media to the market because of its huge capacity and multimedia function. Packaging: Retail Model#: DRD-478-RDCB50 Item#: N82E16817132347 FedEx Saver Shipping $4.00 $26.00 I would really appreciate yall weighing in on stores and brands, I am definately ready to do this right Thanks for everything, as frustrating as i've been, yall have been great!