Main concerns are,
component/bike quality (does anyone know the frame warranty on the brands)
it will be used 95% on the road, and maybe 5% will used on dirt/gravel/grass paths
budget of roughly 1k (yes hoping to get the cannondale on sale)
Where are you located and what is actually available to you through a LBS? You posted links for models that appear to from Australia, the U.K., and the U.S.- not all models are available in all markets and AFAIK, none of those brands support online sales of their current production bikes direct to the consumer.
Also as a novice, you really ought to be concentrating on finding a LBS that you like and then pick from what they have to offer. And to be honest, I'd suggest that you save some money and just get an entry level model of your choosing. The rest of your budget can go towards accessories and act as seed money for your next rig.
I don't have any comparative knowledge versus the other bikes, but I have a 7.6 It's a nice bike & I really like the shock dampening insert on the rear triangle (The isozone monostay). It seems to work well. I use mine for commuting and have found it to be very relaible. I bought last year's model as they switched toa double chainring up front for 2012 & I wanted the triple.