Can I expect comparable performance and compatibility with my laptop as far as software center and ppa's under Mint as I do in trusty. I suppose I can use VirtualBox to experiment. I know this is question is somewhat on the line, but I will try anyway.
Linux Mint is a derivative of Ubuntu - it is based on the same packages, some of which have been replaced with new one to make a customized version. You can sort of see this by looking at the repositories list on it: This is from the Live DVD - probably not much different to the installed version
Looking at http://packages.linuxmint.com/list.php?release=Qiana it seems to be mainly cinnamon, Xfce, & Mate desktop mods along with some themes - though it probably influences some more system related things such as graphics drivers as Mint is supposed to have a more open approach to proprietary software.