...Although I don't see a bios reset helping, the easiest way is simply boot up into the bios.
... I don't know whether that's the F2 key or what key for his laptop.
If he gets to the bios then already we know that basically the unit functions even if the hard disk is toast.
... follow Greg's advice about booting up from a System Repair Disc (be sure to tell him how to make one, since some people confuse with a system restore disc).
The Seagate Diagnostic Tools can be burned to CD and then he can boot from CD and use Seagate Diagnostic Tools to test his hard drive.
Seagate Diagnostic Tools will work irregardless of who made t he hard disk. SeaTools for DOS | Seagate
There are tutorials here on using Seagate, on making a System Repair Disc, an System Repair and System Restore and in fact every option possible from the System Repair Disc.