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A distro costs 1 CD (about €0.1 when bought by 100 where I live).
You can try 10 distros for €1
Download Mandriva, Ubuntu, OpenSuse, Fedora and Mint. Burn the CD and boot from it. If you like what you see, install.
downloading is about 10 minutes (depends on your internet connection speed), burning is about 5 minutes (depends on the speed of your drive), and booting is about 2 minutes.
30 minutes is the time it takes to try a distro.
I agree that you need to try several distros to find the one that works for you and has an install routine you're happy with. You can do the first bit by trying the live CDs offered by most of the leading distros but to see the install routine you need to start playing with your partitioning layout. That is always the scary bit where you have the chance to completely trash your working system!
If you've got Windows installed you might want to look at Virtual Box http://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Downloads (free) or VMWARE's Workstation http://www.vmware.com/products/ws/. (free for a 30 day trial). Both these packages would let you try the distro using the downloaded iso files without having to burn the CD (a huge cost saving!) and more importantly without fiddling with your partition layout until you decide you've found the one for you!
At that point, you can bit the bullet and go for it! (after backing up all important data files)
User freindly is a misnomer. It really depends on what you expect from your system. If your looking for a desktop I'd recomend Ubuntu, if your looking for a server I'd recomend Slackware minus the GUI. I also found out that when you exclusivly use the CLI you learn how to use the system a lot more effectivly.