I'm running mate on 2 debian boxes, my desktop and my netbook. the only thing I got really annoyed at was that they renamed everything, gnome-panel is mate-panel, that's understandable, but why rename nautilus caja?
other than that my experience is that mate is really a good fork of gnome2.
I bought a second hand android phone and use it with a dumbphone service, the only thing i really miss is having email working wherever i am, but usually when I'm not in range of a wifi network I have access to I'm not in a great position to handle email anyways. But I do have bejeweled and angry birds!
I use i3-wm on everything now, the tiling is great on the desktop and the tabbing is awesome on my cute little netbook. Combine that with dmenu to start stuff and keybindings for firefox and thunderbird and I'm happy.
Combine i3 with dmenu and a nice light terminal emulator like urxvt or xterm and you've made me feel at home:)