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A weird coincidence...i've just come across this problem the day after you :)
I've got a Dell Inspiron 2600 with exactly the same problem. However, this problem only occured after i updated the BIOS (to A11) to try to resolve another Safeboot issue. Safeboot was OK on boot up until this point.
I'm going to try to revert to a previous BIOS, although i'm not even sure of this is possible. I'll post back if I can get any further...unfortunately this is the kind of thing where Dell will say speak to McAfee and McAfee will say speak to Dell!!
Just a quick note to let you know that reverting from BIOS A11 to BIOS A08 has resolved the issue for me on my Inspiron 2600.
It might be worth you going to ftp://ftp.dell.com/bios/. If you scroll down you'll get to files labelled I2500Axx.exe, which should be the ones you need for your computer.
Post back if you have any more questions.
cheers Trevora - I'll give it a go & post the results.