I have a customer with an Inspiron 8600 laptop. Both USB ports are non-functional. I thought perhaps a port replicator would solve the problem but it doesn't work either.
Will a docking station fix the problem? I'd like to know before wasting more time on this.
Since it sounds like the USB controller is the problem, probably not.
The less expensive solution: install a USB 2.0 PCMCIA card. Otherwise, replace the mainboard.