It has taken a few days to get both of these distributions loaded on everything I have around here, but I finally have it done, and I can write up a quick summary of the results. The news is almost all good, with just a couple of minor exceptions.
Samsung N150 Plus, Acer Aspire One 522, Fujitsu Lifebook S6510 - On all of these, both Mint 13 and Mageia 2 installed with absolutely no problems, and run flawlessly. All of the hardware is recognized and supported, displays come up at the correct resolution, wired and wireless networking, Bluetooth, Fn-keys, suspend/resume, power management, screen brightness, it all works.
HP Pavilion dm1-3105ez. The accursed Synaptic "ClickPad" system. Well, Mint 13 at least handles it the same way that Ubuntu 12.04 does, meaning that a two-finger tap produces a right-click, but drag-and-drop and scrolling are still difficult to impossible. Mageia 2 doesn't handle the ClickPad well at all, it has all the typical problems with right-click, drag-and-drop and scrolling.
Samsung NF310. Strangely, when running Mint 13 MATE the Bluetooth management windows will not come up. I can click on the Bluetooth icon and select any function, then check process status and see that the Bluetooth applets are running, but the windows are never displayed.
Acer Aspire One 522. The model I have does not have Bluetooth, so I could not test that.
Overall, these two distributions show very well how good Linux support for off-the-shelf laptops and netbooks has become. There is a very wide range of hardware here - CPUs from Intel (Core2Duo and Atom) and AMD (C-60 and E450), internal displays ranging from 1024x600 to 1280x800, external displays up to 1920x1080, wired and wireless network adapters from Intel, Broadcom, Atheros and Ralink, and much more. It all just works.
So, how do they compare to each other, in terms of base installation contents?
Linux Mint 13
System: Linux kernel 3.2.0, Cinnamon 1.4, MATE 1.2.0, X.org X server 1.11.3 Internet: Firefox 12.0, Thuderbird 12.0.1 Graphics/Photos: Eye of MATE Image Viewer 1.2.0, gThumb 2.14.3, GIMP 2.6.12 Office: Libre Office 220.127.116.11 (Including Write, Calc, Impress, Draw and Base) Multimedia: Banshee 2.4, Gnome Mplayer 1.0.5, Totem Movie Player 3.0.1, Rhythmbox 2.96, VLC Media Player 2.0.1
System: Linux Kernel 3.3.6, KDE 4.8.2, X.org X server 1.11.4 Internet: Firefox 10.0.4 ESR, Konqueror 4.8.2 Graphics/Photos: Gwenview 2.8.2, Okular 0.14.2, GIMP 2.8.0 Office: LibreOffice 18.104.22.168 Multimedia: Amarok 2.5.0, Dragon Player 2.0
There are some interesting differences there - particularly with Mageia having a much newer Linux kernel, X server and GIMP, but having chosen to stay with the Firefox ESR release. Mint has always been strong in sound and video, and it shows in this list. I would like for both of them to have a bit more for photo management packages. Of course, this is only what is included in the default base installation, and both of these distributions have excellent software repositories, with lots of excellent packages in all categories.