They've got a pretty solid rep. It's a CZ 75 clone, and the Witness 9/22 (9mm, with an extra upper/mag to shoot 22lr) was on sale here for about $430 about a week ago. Right now it's $500, but it'll probably go back down sooner or later. It'd be a really good gun for a beginner.
A lot of shooters get into the Witness "Match" versions for just a few bucks more. Great triggers on the ones I've shot. If I were in the market for a Witness, I'd definitely prefer their "Wonder" finish. It stands up to the occasional bump and bruise a lot better than the blued versions I've seen.
For home defense, range use, competition, you'd probably be really happy with what EAA has to offer in your price range. But if you have any intentions of carrying it, you might be disappointed in the weight.