I said I was going to check out Mint to satisfy my curiosity about why this might have made such a leap on distrowatch.com. Well, I loaded it up and wanted to give you a quick reaction.
I've run a variety of Linux distributions as my desktop over the last many years. For the last several years I've stuck with Ubuntu. I fired up Mint from a USB drive to see if it might be compelling. My original goal was to use some file system linking magic to try out some of my key applications, like Lotus Notes, while booted into the other environment. Unfortunately, my encrypted drive made it difficult for me to do that. I didn't really feel that I needed to, though. I saw enough just poking around.
In general, I didn't see anything wrong with Mint. It loaded up fine running Gnome and seemed to talk to my laptop just fine. This is not really surprising news, however, as it would be more news to me if it did not talk to my laptop at this stage of Linux development. Here's a decent video walkthrough of what I saw. It's about 8 minutes, but shows you all of the key points.
Overall Mint was a decent experience, but no something that I felt I needed to switch to right away. In general I think that many people went to Mint to run away from having Unity as the default desktop. If you haven't had the Unity experience, here's a demo of that as well.
Personally, I didn't care so much for Unity. However, it was not difficult to change it. In fact, I found a nice little video which shows how easy it is to change. (I like this woman. I wonder if I could get her to join us over here on developerWorks?)
Another concern for people was that some of the codecs were not supported "out of the box" on Ubuntu. This was really not a problem either. In the Ubuntu repository they have a series of "restricted extras". You'll find it by searching the software repository. Ubuntu doesn't install these things by default because of licensing issues, but if you install them it's fine. This is an extremely simple step. Perhaps Mint supports more codecs, but it's just not that vital to me. I'm comfortable with simply adding elements as I find that I need them.
So, for now I'm not going to worry to much about Mint. Perhaps when I do an installation for someone in the future or on another machine I may give Mint a try. (My wife's machine has been running Kubuntu for a while and might be due for a refreshment.) Feel free to add your own opinions.