Since your going on the newb-friendly approach, I'd suggest using the unified shielding.
Unified shielding means that the user does not have to fool around with transferring energy during the middle of a dogfight, which is highly beneficial to defenders in that they don't have to move their hands around quickly to punch the transfer energy key.
Conceptually, unified shield makes sense to me for the Shadow Squadron (they're supposed to be the razor's edge in star craft technology), because the energy transferring would be completely controlled by the craft computer. Canon could be made up for the universe to the extent that split shields where common on older craft, but due to the increasing demands/needs by the pilots, the unified shielding was made standard.
Lastly, in my opinion quad- shields are a bit too much for an FSO newb (such as myself
) so if you had to lean towards split shields I'd suggest using bi-directional shields (forward/aft) instead. About the only thing that could be beneficial from split shields vs. unified is the "oh $%&#, my rear shields are down" element.