thats an example of what happens if i try and type right now - occaisionally, and getting more frequent as time goes on my space bar, n, b and arrow keys die completely for a while, now, i'm guessing this is just a loose connection since this laptop i'm using has been through a reasonable amount of torture, but i'm just wondering, anyone heard of any software issue with dell insipron keyboards having issues?
I have not heared of any software issues but laptop keyboards are a pain. You can buy new ones but they cost between £30 and £90. I just recently replaced an Acer one for £45. You can get away with USB keyboard (Which I suspect you are doing seen as you are typing normal now) and if you are really in a jam without any other keyboard you can use the on screen keyboard in accessability options. Pressing the windows key + U at the same time will start the utility manager for this.
Basically the one I replaced had water spilt over it an dsome keys had blown but this can short out and blow the rest of the keys if not your keyboard controller. If it is loose connection I recommend checking it out before it does more damage. Also some laptop individual keys stick over the years with dust, crumbs etc this could also be a problem. The come off easy enough but sometimes can be a nightmare to put back on without snapping bits off them. I wouldn't recommend removing individual keys but instead the whole keyboard.
Don't know how easy your model is to remove but somebody on the net will have done it before check other forums. You will probably need to take it off to get the product code if you are going to order a new one. Some sites that sell them have how to sections. Dells are usuall fairly easy to work on.
mafadecay is probably correct, and to replace the KB is no problem, power down the laptop and turn it over, the screws on the back are marked, with a K for the KB, you might want to use a finger nail file to get the KB out of the case aterwards, lift it up gently and diconnect the connector tape and then reverse the process for the installotion,east as can be