Re: Laptop started displaying garbage. Permanently.
Im sure its toast. I have that model and it kicked the bucket too.
The difference was that i had the screen divided in 2 horizontally and i had the same image on both sides - first it happened a few times and when rebooted it went away but any remotely GPU intensive operation made it happen again after a random amount of time.
And once just stuck in that state - i had Ubuntu 9.04+Windows XP on it - both showed the same symptoms.
It is my work laptop and it was fixed free of charge - AFAIK Dell extended the warranty on this model to 5-6 years for issues like this. Google around. No need to go into stuff what OS was on it, i just removed the HDD (it contained possibly sensitive information, but i would done it the same way if it was mine too).