If that was happening on a regular PC then it's most likely to be a conflict between two master devices on the same channel. I'm not sure how laptops work with IDE channels (or if they have 1 or 2 for that matter).. however.. if the drive does not appear in the BIOS screen, then I'd say it's either a hardware fault or physical configuration problem.
Is the DVD writer inside a caddy which in turn gets fitted into the laptop?
I've fitted a few CD-RW/DVD combo drives to various brands of laptops ans so far never had any rejections. Some of them are straight slot-in-and-play but others need to be fitted inside a caddy, which I assume is unique to that particular manufacturer or model.
Wish I could say something more helpful as I know how frustrating it must be