Thanks for the suggestions.
But I have been totally consumed with this problem for two weeks.

The drive is an Ultra ATA drive @ 5400 rpm. According to all the specs it should be completely compatible (per Apple and Samsung Technical support).

The default configuration for the notebook drive is as Master (no jumpers in this case). The drive did not even come with any jumpers. I have tried resetting the PRAM and the Logic Board, removing the battery, initializing and partitioning the drive. I have tired every combination and permutation of the above. When the drive is used as a FireWire target, I can install, initialize, partition, use as the boot disk, do everything a drive should be able to do. But when I try to boot the laptop normally, I can't even get it to boot from CD (except for the Drive 10 and TechPro Tools CD's, which scan the drive and say everything is fine). I was previously running 10.2 on the old 30GB drive. I tried installing 10.2, 10.1 and 9 on the new 80GB drive, but had no luck with any of them. They all gave me a kernel error and said: "Panic, we're hangin' here" Cute, but not helpful. When I put the old 30GB drive back in, the laptop boots as normal.

At this point, I am more pissed off that I can't figure it out, than the fact that the drive doesn't work. Not sure what else to try. Any other suggestions?