I have to agree with moj, on this one, and say that if a distribution is aimed at newbies, it should be as easy a possible to install and be expected to work on a wide a range of kit as possible.
The excuse used "it can't be expected to work on every thing" is pretty lame. OK, so in really nothing can. But in most the average PC is based on standard components and operations. Although, for example, motherboards will use there own drivers for things like IDE, PCI and other buses, the range of chips is not that wide, and the basic fucntionality again is fairly standard, and supported by even the basic Linux kernel arrangements.
Linux advocates are claiming that Linux is ready for thedesktop - to me that means that unless you are running some exotic hardware, or the distribution is aimed being a minimalist distro, you should be able to just boot from the CD/DVD, and have a [i]functional/i] installation. OK, not necessarily fully function. Maybe the graphics need setting up, maybe a few additional hardware devices need drivers installing. But you should be able to get to a basic state where you read help files. A distibution that can cause a common PC, say one with well known component manufacturers, is clearly not ready to be used by a newbie.
I have used, and still do, distributions put together by quite small operations (one & two man), and they have worked straight out of box. so, it seems not a case on testing with everything, but rather carefully selecting what you use in the first place.