Hello, Mr. Cubicle
I’ve been using plasma for most of 2020, and am now on 5.19.5 atop Majaro. I agree with all the points you raise, except I use Pamac for package management, mostly because of the Manjaro-specific Snap, Flatpak, and AUR support. Not a Plasma issue, but still.
I’m with you as far as the devs focusing on and tightening up details. More and more I find myself using and enjoying kde apps such as Dolphin and Kate. At the same time, GTK tweaks seem easier to tweak so GTK apps feel at home. This type of thing I’m not sure if it’s an improvement or just me exploring more.
Another thing I’m sensitive to since I use old computers is that the KDE footprint is as light as I need it to be. I also enjoy XFCE, and KDE doesn’t seem to load down my laptop too much at all. I see real performance issues with Gnome, Cinnamon and others, but KDE runs about as well as XFCE on my 10 year old Macbook.
Matter of fact, it’s been a while since I distro-hopped because Plasma is so - how you say - tight.