You can't hear speakers on a forum, no matter how good it is or articulate it's members. So my advice, since you asked, is to step away from the keyboard and the reviews and go listen to as many speakers in your price range as you can.
Polks are decent speakers. So are Ascend. So are Wharfdales. So are the others you and others have mentioned. But until you listen to them, you won't know which ones are right for you and your space. Ordering and listening in home is certainly an option, but why not at least get an idea from a listening room if you might like the ones you order first?
I was sold on a Polk setup. Then I went and listened, and wasn't sure. Then I went to an audio retailer, and fell in love with Paradigms. Before I bought, I went and listened to a few more at a little specialty home theater shop. Lo and behold, I came across PSBs, and fell in love.
I couldn't afford the Synchronies that I wanted, so I took a chance based on that listening impression and a few reviews and testimonials, as well as some internet-deal finding, to go with a PSB Image setup (the old series - T55, C60 center, B25 surrounds, and a Subsonic 5i) and I could not be happier. Very clean, very flat, very neutral, and paired with a Harman Kardon amp, exactly what I wanted my soundstage to be. The speakers disappear, and the sound shines through. Great for movies, and incredibly good for 2 channel listening, too.
All for about the money you're looking to spend.
But note, I didn't tell you to run out and buy PSB. Listen. With your ears. Decide what you like, and what will work for you. Then buy that.