I was never that impressed with Ubuntu, it always goofed up something or the other on my laptop, in spite of boasting very good hardware support. But Feisty provides state-of-the-art out-of-the-box hardware support. And in spite of not liking Gnome I'm using it since 2 weeks now.
Firstly its not that slow as it felt in previous releases, compared to other distros. It could be because I'm using the 64-bit release which could be bit more optimized compared to the standard x86 one, which is i486 (though the release claims i386). Feisty has great ACPI support. The laptop fans turn on and off at the right time, on my HP laptop's buggy ACPI bios support. The frequency scaling is perfect. Full marks here.
Other hardware like ATI graphics card, touchpad with scrolling, ethernet, usb everything works. USB plug-in and plug-out gives nice balloon messages on the desktop, and a single click on a device name mounts it. CDs, DVDs autoplay. Installing wifi drivers using ndiswrapper might be bit tricky for novices, but thats the only hitch. Again you get all Windows drivers to be used with ndiswrapper on Ubuntu's extraordinary package repository. So even that should be fairly easy for newbies.
Multimedia keyboard support is surprisingly better than in Windows XP! Theres also layouts of Indian languages installed by default...though I'm looking for phonetic layout which is much easier to use.
The wow is now
Play a .avi file that needs some xvid video codec. The media player initially says it doesn't find the right codec. Ubuntu then spawns a search in its repository by itself, finds the right codecs with all dependencies, downloads and installs them on a single click. The media player now plays your file, flawlessly.
NetworkManager applet in gnome now gives a list of wifi networks in range, and you can connect with one click, with WPA/WEP support. Its as good as it can get.
Other work around that is needed for 64-bit are running Flash, which is still doesn't have a 64-bit version! There is wonderful thing called nspluginwrapper that wraps 32-bit plugins and runs them under 64-bit Firefox. Ultra neat.
Suspend and hibernate worked initially, though I did something due to which it no longer works...still have to find out. But it should work on most machines, as it worked nicely even in past releases.
Overall, this release nails all things right in place. Finally Linux is ready for the laptops, its been for desktops since ages, but laptops need lot of good hardware support to work efficiently, and its in very good shape now. With open source community offering free development of drivers to hardware firms, on providing the specifications, the reverse engineering effort behind that should reduce, and we'll see much more hardware that supports Linux from its very first release.