The Acer thing
in my experience of building enough of them for domestic and business customers, Acer have put a shitoad of effort into sorting out the software environment to the degree where a basic install of a basic Acer is actually allright.
They went through a few periods in their base models of having different sysprep environments:
A few years ago, having everything under the sun installed on FirstRun - tedious waiting 40mins for it to install loads of pish, including AV, media playback bloatware, etc. Not even joking. It was a grind.
Then they switched to giving you a selective first run installer on some models - untick all the crap and leave Virtual XP Mode, thankyouvery much. Much nicer.
Now they seem to be giving a fairly light selection of apps preinstalled that are just there from the off, with installer links to other things (Skype, etc) that you can install if you like. They get the kickback from the software company, without me having to wait half an hour for the machine to boot up.
I still find myself uninstalling some bits and bats depending on the requirements of the customer (A small office does not need an eBay link on the desktop, etc - which for some reason has an installer) but generally it's not bad now. Certainly better than the shit Sony put on their machines by a wide margin.
The hardware on Acers has been perfectly acceptable for a while now (I see far more HP laptops in for broken DC jacks or mobo faults at that price range, believe me), the software was the issue.
Their base level Win8 machines are (WIn8 aside, natch) pretty nicely setup in terms of the sysprep they do. Really can't argue at the price.
It's at the stage where if someone just wanted a machine to do Office and Youtube stuff on and no other specific requirements, I'd actually suggest a low level Acer. They are the Kia Cee'd of the IT world. Inoffensive, well enough made, reasonably specced, seem to last pretty well - a perfectly acceptable basic workhorse at a perfectly acceptable sticker, frankly.
(Clarification - work for a reseller who sells Acers a lot, but believe me, I remember back in the day where you'd expect a third of the Travelmate laptops you had to go back under warranty for genuine hardware faults - it's taken a long, long time for me to warm to Acer as a hardware supplier)