Just my two cents, but for someone with limited experience, a Weber kettle (I think the 22.5 inch silver is $89.95 on Amazon) is hard to beat. No, you won’t get competition level ribs or butts, but it will do a great job doing the occasional slow BBQ with a small fire built to one side and the ribs, butt, or brisket, on the other.
Moving up a step, for smoking I truly think that you can’t go wrong with a WSM. The ability to control the temps is much better than with the other bullet-type smokers you see on the market. It really is hard to mess up, and does not require constant tinckering.
Combined, the purchase of these two will cost you under $300. If you hate them, you could probably recover $200+ on ebay. I would really hate to see a beginning griller/BBQer spend TONS of money for an offset that really works, only to discover he doesn’t like to tend a fire for 10 hours…