I've been using Eclipse for Java development for over 5 years. I'm currently using Eclipse 3.7. Recently NetBeans 7.2 beta was released and I decided to give it a try. I'm working on refactoring/improving a large Java project that was written over 4 years ago. I'm adding Spring, Maven, unit tests and improving the projects flexibility and maintainability. I spent a day using NetBeans 7.2 beta instead of Eclipse to see how well I liked using NetBeans.
This version of NetBeans is advertised at being faster and I found that to be the case. I was never waiting on the IDE. Tasks that may take some time are run in the background so I can continue working. I don't know if NetBeans 7.2 is any faster then Eclipse 3.7 but it definitely isn't slower for the tasks I performed.
FindBugs Built In
This feature was very helpful. The old code I'm refactoring has lots of questionable practices. NetBeans with FindBugs built-in provides me much more information as I'm working in a class to identify code that needs to be redone. For example, the IDE flagged places where the code was using Hashtable. There were other places where the code was using StringBuilder but appending to the StringBuilder object a series of Strings (e.g. stringBuilderObject.append("String 1" + "String 2" + stringVar).
Delete With Find Usage
If I select a class for deletion, the IDE will give me the option of first searching for where that class is being used. In a large code base that I'm not extensively familiar with this can be very helpful. It will also search the comments through out the project for a reference to the class--helpful for keeping comments updated.
Build into NetBeans 7.2 is support for Maven 3.0.4. One nice feature I noticed is that if I select a test class and choose Run Test File the IDE runs the maven test goal just for that class. In Eclipse 3.7 I have to create a special build configuration to just run a single test class using Maven. Another helpful feature is a drop-down on the main IDE screen where I can select which Maven profile I want to apply when executing Maven goals (test, package, etc) from the menu system.
I liked NetBeans 7.2 enough that I will keep using it for a while longer. I've not found anything I did in Eclipse 3.7 that I cannot do just as easily in NetBeans 7.2. If you want to learn more about NetBeans 7.2 consult the references below.