If not dealing with DE is on your wish list, then you can probably go down to a cartridge filter and still not notice a difference in performance. The only caveat is that, for most filter decisions, the biggest one you can afford is best. This is especially true for a cart filter since you want to have to open it up and clean as few times in a given year or season as is practical.
I love my Pentair QuadDE-100 because I've gotten to the point where I only need to tear it down twice per year and clean it out. I do not have to backwash it at all. So two tear-downs per year means going through two 10-lb bags of DE per year, that's it.
I'm with JFN. I liked my old DE, I really like my Quad DE80. Dropped my power bill too. I saw a 2:1 reduction in flow friction, and was able to drop by pump speed [and therefore power utilization] to about 170 watts.