Thanks for all your input everyone.
Just to clarify for some of you helpful folks
* There is no hidden partition - well not to my knowledge any way, this is my 3rd HD for this machine and each time I've had no issue with a restore from the provided recovery disk, and on formatted HD's. Even looking through the c:\ partition previously, I've never seen a hidden partition
Tried something new tonight as found my HD before the one I returned - the original OEM. I 0'ed that to hopefully get rid of any errors - and squeeze out any last use I could from the HD - and tried a recovery with this drive. Again, the error screen at 61%.
I'm thinking it's a hardware failure somewhere in the laptop. Not conclusive as the OEM HD was somewhat faulty anyway, but still enough to get me thinking it's not the HD's or even the physical recovery disk for that matter.
Also, when I tried to remove the HD cover the foam sealing on the plastic had slightly melted and stuck to the HD.
* Something in the laptop is preventing the complete recovery and resulting in the HD cylinders just going round and over heating? Maybe.
* Or it was just the old OEM drive conking out further
* That, and I found some darkness at the bottom of the HD bay in the laptop, looks like faint singeing
Either way, I don't want to try it again with the newer drive and I think my laptop has finally had it. After 3 HD's I think I could be perhaps right : )