If it were me...I'd open that case, since that seems to be the only hope (currently) of accessing whatever data is on the drive. And, even if removed or accessible...the major problem seems to be that the data is unreadable by the apps you've tried.
The programs that you mentioned...I have no familiarity with them and cannot judge their efficiency/credibility. My experience is that not all recovery programs are the same...some are goood, others have limitations which limit their ability to recover data successfully.
Have you tried using a Linux application to read data on the drive?http://port25.technet.com/archive/2007/11/...sing-linux.aspx
My experience is that...no free data recovery program helped me with my situation. Trying to come off cheap when you cannot read a hard drive...just doesn't make sense to me. If I wanted to be cheap, I'd just do a clean install and reformat the hard drive...and hope for the best.
OTOH, I don't think you have to spend a fortune to have a reliable, useful program for data recovery.
I use Quetek's File Scavenger (actually, I've used it twice), but I won't make a personal recommendation for it because I know the process of data recovery is always very iffy.