My continuing saga with Alienware entered a new and much more pleasant phase about a month and a half ago. You might be familiar with my prior troubles and rants (see category) and all that had led me to ask for a refund - they countered with an offer for a new system at no addtl charge. I agreed and so far and very happy.
The new Area 51M has made several notable improvements over its ancestor. The internal speakers are now mow producing much better sound (although still not as good as the Toshiba with its built-in Harmon Kardon system with subwoofer). The screen (15.4) is clear, bright and sharp. The system feels like it is running faster although this has 512MB less Ram than the prior one. The system's fans also make much less noise and I have not had that annoying problem with my power brick just mysteriously turning off like the first one did.
I would ask why any sane designer would place all USB ports on the right-hand side of a laptop so that when you plug in a mouse or any periph., your hand is automatically shifted out several inches - makes it a real pain in tight spaces.
Overall though, I do have to give it up to Alienware - this machine is a definite improvement of the prior one. Oh yeah, all my games are also running flawlessly with no artifacts as with the first one.
Anyway - a laptop story with a semi-happy ending.