Hi! What no one likes to hear:
Take the laptop to a *local* store and try it with an Mbox. Even without a dedicated drive for audio, it will allow you to see if it works or not.
Key things to look for if/when trying:
Crackles/dropouts with an input active, rec ready. Dont even need to hit record- just hook up and rec ready. If you are getting any distortion or dropout, the USB on that laptop MAY be the culprit, and getting around that will unfortunately be difficult, if not impossible. Most times it is an underpowered USB port. I would also suggest bringing a powered USB hub, brand name, known to be a very reliabke unit. This may supercede any shortcomings in the laptop's USB, although it is not supported or recommended bu Digidesign. Although the laptop may have two *ports* for USB (ie, 2 actual places to plug USB in), it more than likely has both running from the same "hub" internally. That hub has an allowance of 500mA by spec, although some manufacturers seem to have 'em underpowered.
Since you are here on Jemsite, I am assuming you are a guitar player, and looking to use it for recording guitar and more. When recording live instruments, an H/W Buffer size (you will find out quickly what this refers to, if you do not already) of 256 is comfy for tracking. Above that and it starts to get un-comfy. With the Mbox, you can choose to hear the direct signal, which is great for overcoming latency with higher HW settings. For some more reading:
Manuals and other docs there.
Use a ps2 mouse! Any other "active" USB devices (mouse, internet, etc) will interfere. "Passive" USB devices (iLok, etc) will be fine in most cases.
I would highly recommend adding more memory. Memory will not directly affect number of tracks or general performance; however, certain plug-ins will grab memory. I have found 512M to be a minimum comfortable amount when using audio/midi apps with Win XP. Careful attention to tweaking ends up being a must in most situations.
I would create a second hardware profile specifically for using an Mbox. Disable any unneeded devices, and set power features to always on. System Restore is also a huge hog, and although great, a workaround is to use a drive imaging app, such as Norton Ghost, Acronis True Image, or some other. There are quite a few tweaks that can help.
For an audio drive: I would suggest grabbing a firwire enclosure. This will allow you to use an IDE drive of your choice, and will allow you to swap out drives a bit more cheaply, although the enclosure+drive may be slightly more for the first set. It will also allow you to grab a smaller, but still fast enough, drive if cost becomes a factor, and simply grab a new. larger & faster drive to pop in it later when you have recovered from all this.
Once again, the DUC (Digidesign Users Conference) is an excellent place to get info and interact with other users. Hopefully they will have it back up Mon or Tues this week. There is a dedicated section for Windows users of the Pro Tools LE systems, Mbox, Digi001 and Digi002/002r.
Good luck, and if I can offer any more help, please feel free to ask, and I will do my best. Nikki