Hi Bob, per your suggestion, I've tried to confirm if the built-in DVD/CD-Rom drive is working. All below was tested without any external devices plugged into any ports.
Scenario 1: When the device boot priority list is set to #1 hard drive and #2 DVD/CD-Rom, the ''load error'' occurs within the first 10 seconds after startup. Pressing any key doesn't work to reboot. Only Ctrl-Alt-Del will work to reboot from that point.
Scenario 2: When the device boot priority is set to #1 DVD/CD-Rom and #2 hard drive, the empty DVD/CD drive seems to be active for a moment before switching to the hard drive, then the ''load error'' message appears.
Scenario 3: When the device boot priority is set to #1 DVD/CD-Rom and #2 hard drive, but I have either the original Toshiba Windows XP restoration DVD or my own Acronis True Image rescue CD, the respective restoration program seems to load. I'll follow those instructions, reinstall everything, then on the first boot afterwards (regardless of DVD/CD or hard drive in #1 boot priority), I get the ''load error''.
Scenario 4: You gave me an idea to determine if the built-in DVD/CD drive might be the problem, so I set the boot priority to #1 External Devices, #2 hard drive and #3 DVD/CD. Then I plugged in an external USB DVD drive and rebooted. It's hard to tell whether the PC recognized an external device was plugged in (no noise or lights) and quickly displayed ''load error''. I tested with and without a restoration DVD/CD in the external drive, and I could not get either restoration software to load from the external HP DVD DC5000 drive.
Regarding boot priority order, I also tried disabling devices (i.e.: hard drive, DVD/CD drive, external devices, network boot) and just trying to boot from one at a time. To me it seems every time I try to boot from the HD, I get the load error.
I've been searching Toshiba's knowledge base (not too helpful), the link you posted and other boards. I found one suggestion about creating a boot CD with certain drivers and I'm going to try that next.
I appreciate your suggestions. -Roland