First, I think either is quite a lot of bike for a beginner. The ER with lower height may help you out. I'm 5-10 with a 30' inseam and the V is no problem. My dirtbike is at least another couple of inches taller. I dont' have another suggestion for an alternate bike, I would just be scared to death of a brand new rider on one. Even the V with the lower power output has plenty on tap. It's surprising for a relatively 'mild' bike according to the professional reviewers.
I really like the ER, thought I would buy one. Looked at both at the bike show and fell in love. Actually, fell in love with the Ducati Hypermotard but decided it was too much bike and too much money. Also liked the Triumph Street Triple. But with 50% more HP on tap I thought it may be too much bike as well.
I've been riding bikes off and one for more than 40 years. In the last 6 years I've had a SV650, a DL1000 V-Strom, and just got a Versys.
When it came down to comparing the Kawasakis, they put WAY better suspension on the V, an inch longer travel with upside down forks, and tuned the motor for peak torque output at a lower rpm. This combination makes the bike much more relaxed to ride, and more capable for a wider array of terrain. Combine with an additional gallon of fuel, a flyscreen, and better ergos, it became an easy choice.
I really like the all-black 2010 models, but couldn't resist the pricing on the '09. So I got a green one with the black wheels and trim and have already bought the paint to cover all the green. I shoot Dupont Centari acrylic enamel. Flat black for the tank, and gloss for the fairings.
Good luck with your decision.
2009 V - custom black-on-black - SOLD