Honestly OP, I wouldn't waste much time with these knockoff Linux versions if you want something that is fully-featured and just works. Check out Peppermint OS: http://peppermintos.com/
. It started off with Mint LXDE and they basically stripped all the bloat. Result: 430MB ISO, uses about 180MB at boot, maybe 220ish with several tabs and text editor open. Install size is similar to XP's install size (~3GB, maybe less). Should load in about 30 seconds on a netbook, fast as any featureless "netbook" Linux distro I've used.
*By fully-featured, I mean you can install ANY program that runs on Linux Mint or Ubuntu, on Peppermint. Well, the same is true for Meego and such, assuming you enjoy spending half an hour waiting for a program to compile from source (yes, VLC of all things took half an hour to install on Meego). Joli, DSL, Puppy, all those Pentium II distros have the same issue as Meego with ridiculously small repos.
Arch probably is fine, but when you use something like Arch, Gentoo, etc. you end up spending more time maintaining (or fixing your OS, best part) than doing work.