I was in a similar situation with a netbook and concluded that the problem was a driver issue during sysprep. I gave up and instead sought a solution by installing Windows XP from a USB stick rather than an external USB CD/DVD drive. In particular, I used this guide to get me started:
Of course, this assumes you can boot from USB. If you're not sure, plug in a USB stick and turn on the laptop, then access your BIOS and check the "Boot Priority" (or similar name) settings. I recommend plugging in a USB stick as I had a computer that didn't show USB in the boot priority settings unless it detected a USB stick prior to entering the BIOS.