In the world of Linux Desktop Environments I usually gravitate towards the more "Windows-like" ones like Xfce and LXDE, or something like MATE in Linux Mint. Strangely enough, I have never been a fan of KDE - probably one of the more Window-y DEs.
Not until I tried KDE Neon, that is. This is pretty flippin' nice, I have to say. The concept behind Neon is, as they say on the neon.kde.org website, is to give you "a stable Ubuntu long-term release as its core, packaging the hottest software fresh from the KDE Community ovens."
The version I installed a few days ago has the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Long Terms Support) as the base, with very few installed apps, but running the latest KDE desktop and software: "Not quite [a distro], it's a package archive with the latest KDE software on top of a stable base."
I found that even though the KDE Plasma desktop (ver. 5.9.4) has things like single-click to launch apps (which I generally don't like), for some reason, the whole thing seems very pleasing to me.
Installation was straightforward and fast on my 4-5 year old laptop with an SSD drive and 6GB of RAM. The system boots quickly, and your are greeted with an empty desktop, although you can add folders and such - which I understand is a recent change for Neon/KDE Plasma.
I did not run into any hardware recognition issues, and the laptop's (Realtek) wireless card has been working fine the past few days. Suspend/resume also works as it should, as does screen brightness/power management.
As I said, there is not much software installed, which is fine for my admittedly limited needs. It comes with Firefox and VLC player, which are both favorites of mine, and I was able to install and use OnlyOffice and Pcloud from their .deb packages with no issues through the "Discover" app.
I also installed the Kdenlive video editor using Discover, again with no issues. I mention these as there seemed to be some bugs with Discover as recently as a few months ago, so at least it looks like the KDE folks are being responsive to bug reports.
The overall "out of the box" appearance of the OS is a clean, modern "flat" look, with a pretty big mouse pointer. Fonts and such appear fine to me (not something I generally obsess over anyway), and the Dolphin file manager looks good and has a split screen option, which is nice for moving files around.
As I have only been running this for a couple of days, I have not done much in the area of customization, other than select another wallpaper - I tend to use the OS for a week or so before I muck around with it too much. I do understand that KDE is generally regarded as being quite customizable, so there will be time for fiddling around later.
I must say though, I do like the way the "Start button" is set up (actually it's called "Kickoff") and the overall system performance is surprisingly good - it seems to be up there with Xubuntu. This is just from my observations, I am not doing benchmarks or anything scientific like that.
I guess the best impression I can give is that KDE Neon seems well integrated and slick - it works well and largely says out of the way. I don't really go for "show off" features in an OS, I generally just want to be able to get things done and not throw me off track too much as I bumble along - and somewhat to my surprise, KDE Neon does exactly that.
Who would have thunk it?
*Update about updates* - nice to also report that updates to KDE Neon have so far been quick and pain free after about two weeks of use. Encouraging for what is a essentially a rolling release-type OS.