Just want a basic, inexpensive pair
At that price, best bang for the buck in terms of optics is always a porro prism model and, in terms of size, if you want a do-everything bino, go with an 8x40 or 8x42. Try the Bushnell Legend 8x42 Porro
For the basics on binocular construction and features is easy to understand terms, see my article at How to Understand Binoculars
Yes, there is a difference. As you go cheaper or smaller, you drop off in either quality orperformance or both. Compacts are not as comfortable to use as afull size bino, but are great to carry. The Travelite is as good as it gets in a compact under $100.
Is it only the Rainguard on the Legend? If so, is that worth the difference in price (about $109 vs. $64)?
The Legened is definitely a better built and tougher bino. For the little extra in cost, well worth it, in my opinion.