The Recovery Partition is a 'hidden' partition and you cannot explore the contents. It contains the software to recover your Vaio back to Factory Settings. Don't do anything that may corrupt this partition.
I would recommend you keep this partition as it may prove invaluable and does not take much space on the latest large hard drives. Home burnt DVDs can become corrupt over time.
Yes, you should also make a set of Recovery Discs using Vaio Care - these will allow you to reinatall the system if you have a hard drive failure which means you cannot use the Recovery Partition to reinstall the software on a new drive.
Have you tried making a set of Recovery Discs? This will only work if the Recovery Partition is OK.
Can you post a screenshot of the Disc Management window from the Computer Management console? Does it have a drive letter? It may be something completely different - like reserved for the Quick Web Access function.
as far as I am aware the EISA recovery partition usually states the same value for Capacity &Free Space, this is because the NTFS file system does not recognise the hidden partitions contents, this was the same on Vista Vaio models..
For peace of mind & a simple way to check if the recovery partition is still intact, try creating another set of recovery disc's or try to re-install an application or driver..
To do this open the all Programs menu, click on Vaio Care folder and then click Vaio Care..
How might making another set of recovery disks help?
I thought it may help to alleviate your concerns that the recovery partition was empty - When creating a set of recovery disc's the data is gathered from the hidden HDD recovery partition..
Not having used the recover, is it possible to select what is 'recovered'?
I thought it was an all or nothing, revert to the bare setup when the machine was built?
There are a couple of options, obviously if you still have the original OS installed on your Vaio -
You can reinstall some but not all of the pre-installed applications should you need to using Reinstall Applications & Drivers option..
You can also Create a set of recovery disc's or Recover your Computer..
If you look at point 6 of the How to recover your VAIO with VAIO Care guide you will see an image of the choices I mention above, the guide is available using the following link - How to recover your VAIO with VAIO Care