Well, since PC-BSD7.01 was a big disappointment on my hardware, I'm hoping that DesktopBSD will prove to be better.
They have continued with the snapshot builds of the new version (based on FreeBSD 7.1-PRERELEASE)
For me PCBSD is just a convinient way to install FreeBSD with hardware autodetection, Flash and Java... The installation worked fine on my Acer laptop, no 3D with mobility radeon though. I don't like KDE4 either so I installed Gnome from ports instead. And I use ports for installing all my software...
I really wanted to try out BSD, so I downloaded PC-BSD and FreeBSD. Well what can I say, neither liked my external CD Drive and so would not boot on my EEE. (I checked over at the FreeBSD forums, they didn't think it was strange that a standard IDE CD ROM drive would fail to be detected...) Ah well.
So I tried PC-BSD on my main system, my PC is a good spec yet I aborted the install about 25 minutes in, it was only 19% done. It was still going, I'm sure it would have succeeded but when I can install any Linux distro or even (gasp) Windows in about 15 minutes total I'm not impressed.
Also I don't like KDE. I'm not having a go at the BSDs but they're not for me.
As for your problem with your CD drive I'm not suprised since one of the major drawbacks that I have found with the BSD OSs is that they are often behind their linux counterparts in terms of Hardware support.
Also after looking at the FreeBSD Gnome pages on their website it seems a lot of things haven't been ported yet (NetworkManager being one of them)
I wont ever use Windows on a machine of my own ever again and I can safely say my machines will be Linux based for quite some time until BSD gets it's act sorted out for desktop use. (It's awesome for servers, my friend uses it and highly recommends it.)
P.S I appreciate that BSD is sometimes a bit behind with hardware support but come on, a standard CD drive?