The speed is great. The camera turns on and shuts down very quickly. Others have mentioned hearing noises, but I haven't personally had any problems with that...could be because there are usually plenty of other noises around me when I'm taking my pictures that I just don't notice it. The battery life seems average...not the greatest, but not bad. I definately reccomend getting an extra battery with this camera (I would probably carry an extra battery with any camera). So, by carrying an extra battery, I would say the battery hasn't been an issue for me at all.
I actually found the menu to be rather user friendly. I owned a canon prior to this one, and the menu is very similar. However, my husband has never really owned or used any camera, and when he tried using mine, he said he alsofound the menu to be very user friendly. However, like many other things, I'm sure thiswill vary from person to person. What one person considers user friendly, another might not.Basically, you'll find almost everything you need in the functions menu (the center button on the four way dial thing)
Don't worry about asking a bunch of questions. Feel free to ask away! I completely understand what it feels like to have a bunch of questions running through your head while camera shopping...I was there not too long ago. I don't know a whole lot about different cameras and stuff, but I'll try and answer your questions the best I can and I'll try and be as helpful as I can.