I've had a chance to work a bit with both the Java EE SDK and Netbeans 5.5 beta. I love the SDK...I've been able to produce EJB 3 code with ease. I love the ease of utilizing Netbeans with the SDK. You literally install and begin coding...very little set up time!
I continue to use JDeveloper at work, and it is also great. Although there is a bit of a learning curve involved. I'd definitely prefer Netbeans if I was a beginner. Its ease of use and its new features make it a very close contender with any other great IDE.
I've also had no issues with the Sun Application Server PE9 thus far. I've always been a fan of this free Sun App Server, and the new release is no let down.
Give it a try!