After an exhaustive search, I finally found a fix to the connection issues between the blackberry handheld and the desktop manager! It has nothing to do with the latest version of software (although I'm glad I downloaded that too!) Here is it (especially for the guy with the Inspiron 9400 laptop, as that is what I have as well)...
Disable the Power Management on the USB Root Hub in the Device Manager using the following steps:
1. On the desktop computer, right-click MY COMPUTER and select PROPERTIES.
2. Click the HARDWARE tab, then click DEVICE MANAGER.
3. Expand UNIVERSAL SEREIAL BUS CONTROLLERS.
4. Right-click the USB ROOT HUB and select PROPERTIES.
5. Click the POWER MANAGEMENT tab, and then remove the check from the ALLOW THE COMPUTER TO TURN OFF THIS DEVICE TO SAVE POWER check box.
6. Click OK.
7. Repeat steps 4 through 6 for each USB Root Hub listed in the Device Manager.
As soon as I got to the USB Root Hub that controls the port I was using for my BB, I received a tone that informed me that my BB connected, and sure enough, I was able to Sync without having to reboot my computer!
(The above fix is courtesy of BlackBerry Desktop Manager cannot detect the BlackBerry device