Thanks for your reply. I read a similar review (maybe even the same one!) after I had bought and set up the machine... and my heart sank!
However, it is not the same machine.... and some of the faults in the review have been addressed in this updated version.
It runs i5-2430 (a tad faster)
It has USB 3.0
It has bluetooth 3.0.
I am not using it for gaming, and the battery life advantages of Sandy Bridge are useful for me.
It only has 3Gb RAM.
The Windows Experience Index is better, giving an overall score of 5.5 (the RAM), a Graphics score of 5.7 (for Windows Aero), a hard disc score of 5.9.
Where it is slowest is on booting up. The Intel rep suggested that this is because it has to load a relatively large number of programmes (many of which are Asus versions of tasks that Windows 7 should be able to perform by itself - or which are not strictly necessary). Like you, he suggested deleting many programmes....
I have deleted all the pre-installed games, for instance, and the machine is still running 120 / 121 processes.
He felt increased RAM would help ease the loading up burden on booting up - but he felt 8Gb was way too much. He felt 4Gb was all I would need. The only reason I has for suggesting 8Gb was that the price of 2 x 4Gb sticks was very similar to the price I would pay for installing 6Gb - and even not much more than installing a matching 1 x 2Gb to take the RAM up to 4Gb.
I bought the machine because it was cheap and seem to have good specs. I have a dual-core Vista (one of the very early ones) which is running painfully slowly - and an Asus ultra-low voltage dual core netbook running Windows 7 (which has become even slower than the Vista machine). Windows 7 on my MacBook Pro is not entirely successful. I need Windows for all the legacy software I have (plus - I have been using Windows for years and years... and old habits die hard). But the MaCBook Pro on OSX easily outstrips the Asus, despite having a lower spec.
I think the Intel rep wanted me to try a clean install of Windows from a disc because he was suggesting I remove as much of the pre-installed software as possible. Using System Restore would simply re-install it all, I think....