What the!? Is everyone on crack this morning? What part of a newbie who's, "Looking for inexpensive, easy to use espresso machine" suggests a Quickmill with an M4, or an old lever machine with a Vario?
Although these would be excellent choices down the line, I'd hardly recommend either of them as a starting point.
$500 should get you a great entry-level setup, if you spend that $500 right. At this price point, you should spend at least as much on the grinder as you do on the machine. It would be better to spend $300 on the grinder and $200 on the machine than the other way around. Get the best grinder you can for between $200-$300 and then choose the machine based on whatever you have left over.
I have a Baratza Virtuoso for a grinder, which is the bare minimum. They run $200 You can make it work, but it takes a lot of tweaking, and even still you'll get mediocre shots at best. If all you drink is milk drinks, it'll do. I love straight espresso, but I can barely drink the stuff I make with this grinder and am ready to upgrade after only 6 months.
Grinders you should look at are, Nemox Lux, Gaggia MDF, Ascaso i1 or i2, Rancilio Rocky, Le Lit PL53. These are the usual suspects in this price range.
What kind of burr grinder does your brother have? Do you know the make and model?
"There's a fine line between hobby and mental illness." - Anon.