I have not used it so I cannot speak from experience but my understanding is the System Recovery in Vistas will require the DVD if you have it.
More and more manufacturers who pre install OS's like vista will have a recovery partition and it should be clear from the manual. My Dell does for example. The problem with recovery partitions is their use is often similar to a format and reinstall so all your added programs and files are lost and need to be reinstalled.
The best thing I have ever bought by a very large margin is Acronis True Image 10. It takes an "image" of your HDD of everything including the precious operating system and all the files and settings. A restore in that case is everything going back exactly as it was before.