In general, I like it. I want to make one statement that might clarify some of my upcoming impressions immediately: I don’t have consistent access to the Internet which makes the use of many Plasmoids difficult or pointless. In general I also prefer to limit background resource use in the first place, so I keep my Plasmoids parred down to just a desktop clock. It’s a pretty clock though.
I really enjoy KDE 4’s theme management. It is extremely easy to browse and install custom themes from within the utility apps, which is a very nice convenience feature. It is one that GNOME may have had, but I never utilized because it was never as apparent. I also like the direct access to many theme details that a user is allowed without needing to edit the actual theme files themselves.
I also appreciate the Kickoff menu, and believe it has a good design philosophy when it comes to making available most commonly used items on your computer, while still providing access to all applications if necessary. It is also 100% keyboard compatible, which gives it big kudos in my book. I admit, I do most of my launching with KRunner, and it’s integration with Nepomuk is seemless, when I am choosing to be running Nepomuk.
I am not a fan of the notifications method yet, and the notifications themselves do not always share uniformity in simple things such as size and position. Yet notifications are part of this new philosophy in complete desktop environment integration that is not necessarily best for low-resource computers. They require lots of background processes and they also require that app developers adhere to a lot of design practices that aren’t always simple. The result is always a half-baked integration where, “official,” apps take advantage of the obvious increased functionality such a system provides, but leaves the user feeling dirty if he chooses to install something other than KDE 4 branded software. This is also the reason I am hesitant to use the personal information management infrastructure built into the desktop environment.