The F2 did to the 600 class what the 900RR did to litrebikes. When it debuted in 91 the factory was claiming 105hp at the crank & that was pretty damn accurate as most of my dyno testing showed between 92-95 at the rear wheel. With a good full systems, a jet kit & and 4 degrees of ignition advance the new 600 was whoopin up on the big dogs of the time (GSXR750,1100) & making them look down right silly both out in the twisties & the 1/4 strip.
If you are considering one as your first bike then you have my full support. You couldn't ask for a better learner bike as you won't have to trade up for something better for quite a while & it is a great handling bike, easy to ride & spare body parts abound cheaply if you were to bin it...
The EX500 is a great bike too extremely nimble & quick, but you will find it underpowered when riding with your friends. However that bike in a proficient riders hands can embarrass quite a few R1's & 929's on a tight twisty road, but in the end as your skill progresses you will find that it's flexy frame & swingarm will hinder your efforts & you will be looking for an upgrade.
Either bike is a great first bike.