Thankfully everything's sorted now
I did use File Scavenger to retrieve my files to a spare HD, but then I used Testdisk to recover the partition which worked fine. File Scavenger seemed to do a better job at retrieving individual files though, as my Truecrypt container was the correct size, unlike with Testdisk.
Also, I used Acronis True Image WD edition to copy my boot partitions from my old to my new HD and I checked them afterwards with Samsung's Align tool and it reports all my partitions are aligned, so I can confirm that TI WD edition works fine with AFD drives. I read that you need a WD drive in the system to use it, but my old HD is a WD so I didn't have any problems.
There's definitely a lot of noise from the F4 until it's suspended. Until I suspended it I had it resting on a gelpack on top of an empty cardboard box and there was a lot of head noise, but it seems about the same as my old WD64000AAKS now that I've suspended it. I didn't compare it to any other drives sitting on the gelpack, so I can't really say whether it's much better or worse than any other drive.
I'm glad that you made it at the end! File Scavenger can really do amazing things. It just works!
On the subject, I have to tell that I started by being super-enthusiatic about the HD204UI, but the 7200 rpm like vibration and the various quality control made me turn back to the WD. I bought a WD20EARS, the new 3-platter one, and I have to tell you that the difference is absolutely amazing. The WD is one of the quietest drive I have ever had, while the Samsung is just ridiculously loud and vibrating. I never thought that I'm going to say the following, but I have to say that the WD is just much faster and has much more constant quality control. I'd guess that about 5 WD drives would do as much vibration as my 1 Samsung.
In the end, it turned out that Samsung became a backup-only drive. I put it in a USB caddy once a month, it's perfect for that purpose. But other than that, I wouldn't use it.