Are you able to boot from a USB stick? I found this tool quite useful for trying out a variety of live-linux iso's on a usb drive:
It provides some useful links to download what is needed to try out a whole bunch of different distros. You can also stack a number of different distros on the same usb drive and choose which one to boot from at startup.
Personally I have been using Debian for quite a few years now, gave ubuntu a brief try but wasn't too happy with it.
I have installed Mint on virtual recently and it really does look as good as people here have stated. Mint would be my final recommendation too.