The tablesaw is typically the center of the workshop. You can use it for so many thing aside from producing square panels. Got raw wood with live edge - not square and don't have a jointer? Well the tablesaw can still safely cut it with a straight edge jig. Want to do a raised panel, yep t.s. can do that too.. Spend what you can and get a decent setup. If you can go the $500 route I would recommend looking at better quality used saws. If you have never used a table saw or owned one before, buying used can be tricky - here is a short list of things to look for, do your research or bring a friend in the know:
1. Listen to the motor running, and let it run a few minutes to check for heat buildup.
2. Check tilt, raise/lower for smoothness. Check gears for chipped or missing teeth.
3. Grab blade and check side to side play.
4. Check for wobble/parallel of blade.
5. Check table for flatness.
6. Miter gauge fit.
7. Rip fence locking and parallel to blade/miter slot.
8. Check trunnions.
9. Take belt off to check motor and arbor bearings with no load.
10. Sight rails.
11. Five sided cut method
If you must have new, maybe bump up to about $700 and take a look at some of the grizzly offerings. They both have riving knives which makes using the guards much easier - i.e. take the guard off and you still have the rk when doing dadoes.
http://www.grizzly.c...Style-Saw/G0732 $695 1.5hp
http://www.grizzly.c...-Series-/G0715P $795 2hp