i'm going to put a quick end to this. if i don't, i'll end up wasting more time/money/stress trying to get it to work - or wondering if it ever will work again.
so, to anyone that wants the machine - i'll post it to you. no conditions attached. if you can get it to work, keep it - you will be welcome to it. i'll be happy that someone salvaged it.
if there are no takers by the end of the week then it goes back on eBay as spares. if there are no takers on eBay it goes in the bin. i really don't want it in my possession - i've other stuff to get on with and can't have this object eating away at my time.
here's a photo of the insides - i wouldn't know where to start to look (after removing even more panels) for the problem. i've read online that several people have required motherboard replacements after similar dead machines. i'm not going down that path.
as for the external dvd drive - that's going to the dump (and the usb cable). i suspect that the tc1100 power supply doesn't work either. not sure if the light only came on on the unit when it was powering the tablet - i've replaced the fuse as that had blown.
so, 4wd, do you want the machine?