This is extremely subjective review.
This review based on Netbeans 7.1.1 ,Eclipse 3.7 (STS 2.8.2),IntelliJ IDEA 11.1.1
- Eclipse looks ascetic .It seems like Eclipse designers has allergy on colors and doesn't like using colors.
- Netbeans has simpler GUI than Eclipse but it looks much nicer and using nice color theme make easier to learn and use.
After update Eclipse is quite likely that something will mess
Netbeans simply works and everything seems to works. New version of Netbeans are better and better.
Eclipse is like fanatically moody girl before period. When you update .... magic various shit happens and you need restore your project from backup,reinstall Eclipse rather than update.Eclipse doesn't crash,but various elements in eclipse crashes all the time and you need spend half day to solve problem (with Eclipse plugins is even more funny)
3)Plugin,Extension and other add-ons
Eclipse has much more plug-ins than Netbeans,but install them can be quite difficult,because Automatic update quite often doesn't due "No f... reason" .Manual updates in theory is easy but it sometimes works and sometimes not,because ... again. .. "No f... reason".It works and doesn't work .. randomly.
I have done test with one plugin
Eclipse received support for new frameworks and quicker than
Netbenas is quite poor in number of extentions, but it works very well (Automatic and manual installation didn't cause any problems (apart some minor).Some third party plugins are easy to install as well.
IntelliJ IDEA .I installed few plugins (automatically) so far and it works,but i have install anything major or tricky,so it is hard to say at the moment.
I really enjoying time with Netbeans.
It looks nice,it is stable and simple but it lacks of various plugins and support cause some problems with using for specific projects.
In other hand, Eclipse has support for almost all java technologies but using Eclipse is like swimming in septic tank. It is big, clumsy and stinky . Solving simply problem takes hundreds steps to do. For example last update in STS from 2.7.2 to 2.8.0 cause big problems which nightmare for software developers who need reverse destructions caused by STS.
I use Eclipse only I must.One good thing about Eclipse is few useful shortcuts.
IntelliJ IDEA seems to work nicely.Highlighting is much worse than Netbeans,but still better than Eclipse.
4a) Android Development
For Android development IntelliJ IDEA works smoothly. Only problems is that, it suffers from lack of GUI Builder(it has something in place that allow you see changes when you typing,so it is not a nightmare .It is not problem if you not using GUI Builders at all and you are create manually),Everything else works well..IDE is bery helpful with make sure that you not messup your code(Code inspection works great)
Eclipse is piece of junk.It is very slow.Doesn't help you You need clean build constantly,because Eclipse mess up everything for no reason and prevent you to create new build.
(I use Eclipse as GUI builder tool as it is only what it works nicely without bigger problems)
4n) Why i hate Eclipse?
Because it fails all the time.I import eclipse project from someone and for complex project that using weird stuff it is 90% chance that will not work with my Eclipse and IDE doesn't give any sensible explanation ... why.Recently after It was some technical issue with libraries I spent 1,5 day to solve problem and i give up
So i import project into Netbeans i needed .... 15 minutes to solve all dependencies and other issues and make ...Eclipse project works smoothly in Netbeans.
Most funny it happens few times already,when I need to prove is imported Eclipse project works i use Netbeans to check out.
Second thing.Eclipse is great because has plugins for newest hot stuff very quickly.Problem is that i end up with using command line (for git maven and other things),because plugins or doesn't works or cause problems.
Third.When i update Eclipse(or specially STS) ,then I do backup,because it happens few times that my project was destroyed by mess made by Eclipse/STS
part1: what for who?
part2: my opinion about each IDE
This is my suggest based on my experience and preferences.
Don't follow them blindly.
If you are beginner?
If is no any company's policy for that.
If you start project.
Use IDE that fit best for the job.but if you can,use your favourite IDE)/
If you continue project
Use somebody else IDE (except if you have good reason to change , like u know that other IDE will works much better and much more efficient and you take over somebody else project ).
For your private project.
If you can,use your favourite IDE,if not then IDE that fit best for the job.
For example for quick java project,php and etc. use Netbeans.
If you using cutting edge stuff ,then Eclipse will have quickest support for that.
For Android Intellij IDEA (Eclipse for GUI builder/prototype if you are beginner)
Netbeans is a winner in terms of quality and usage. If you want start learn Java.Netbeans should be your choice.
IntelliJ IDEA my first impression is ... AWESOME.
Eclipse.Perfect solution for developers who loves clumsy software,enjoying fight with problems created by IDE that's doesn't exists in code that which works has better support for varius technologies via plugins. STS(IDE based on Eclipse) seems for me be a better looking Eclipse with better support for few frameworks (Spring) and technologies ..
If you are forced to use Eclipse (as he has support
Here, you have link to article about Eclipse 3.6 vs
Eclipse vs IntelliJ IDEA on dzone
Another good reason to like Netbeans (as part of everyday usage and GUI ) is better multiscreen support by using drag and drop and stuff,so you can keep your editor in one screen. Navigator and info stuff on another and consoles on third.In Eclipse you need clone Editor (using ... new Window,because new editor ..clone tab (with class for example) ...)
for PHP development look to this compare war between Netbeans vs Eclipse
Update 4: (01 MAY 2012)
I added info about IntelliJ IDEA
Update 5 (09 MAY 2012)
I added why i believe Elcipse in junk.