Those cheapies- well if they work- are great.. But quality control is not something you are paying for.. and they don't make using the flash easy because everything you are doing is basically in manual mode.. Good for a studio type environment where lighting is pretty constant- not good for on the fly in a changing environment.
Starting out- I'd go with either a 580EXII - I know $$$, but it does wireless, and gives you a second strobe for more creative lighting anyways- and is not wasted if you upgrade your body to something with built in wireless flash. The ST-E2 is a good option- compact- cheaper than a 580exII, provides you the ETTL system, ratios, and ability to control 2 groups of flash... It does use some odd and expensive batteries- not rechargeable- I think locally the batteries for it are about $10 a shot..
I had the cheapies on a few sets here (strobes and flashes) at the house.. Sometimes they worked.. Sometimes they didn't.. Very flakey. Went with the 580's and the ST-E2 (sometimes one and sometimes the other) - and was much happier. It's cheaper. Lightweight. Portable. Uses the system already built into the canon's for flash, etc.. Staying with the canon's ETTL- you generally get better results quicker- you let it choose, look at the photo and histograms, and adjust fire from there using FEC. Shooting manual just takes a little longer and a little more practice..
I haven't seen it yet- but how exactly are you planning to use your flash off camera ? Inside in a controlled environment. Inside in an uncontrolled environment. Outside ? If you are ok with manual - inside- you might also be able to get by with Optical slaves triggered off from your onboard- provided you disable your preflash..