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Since XP was reinstalled and the HDD was not prepped with the Media Direct CD before XP install Media direct will not work. You can purchase a Dell Media Center CD on ebay for about $20
I also found a Media Direct CD for a Newer Model, so I'm not sure it would work on yours. Media Direct requires that the HDD be formatted with Media Direct and then the XP installation, Driveras and applications, then install of Media Direct SW. Once done in that manner, you should be able to boot to Media Direct to play a DVD (To be honest, I never found the Media Direct function that useful)
If you have the windows install disk, just put it in and start a new install..there will be an option come up in the installation to format the drive.
If your laptop has a second hard drive listed that is very small that the recovery partition...go to it and run the recovery program
Usually Media Direct is pre-installed on a Dell Portable System. It is installed on a media direct partition. If you reinstalled windows and if you formatted yor hard drive then you may have to reinstall media direct in 2 different ways.
Media direct 2 requires to have windows installed first.
Media direct 3 requires to have the Media Direct CD run first.