If you have another PC, then to confirm you should get either Ultimate Boot CD or Hiren's Boot CD, put it on a USB key or CD and boot into that. It has a number of tools that will tell you the status of your hard drive without having to install anything.
Alternatively, if your hard drive is dead and those text menus are scary it's also possible to get a Ubuntu live CD (again, on CD or USB), and boot into that. It has a disk management tool called Disks that tells you in a graphical environment the status of your hard drive. Unlike many other distros with live CDs, the Ubuntu live CD will automatically recognise all your hard drives and devices so it should be easy to check the SMART status. :)