You'd be surprised at how insignificant the "beginnerability" differences are with the 650S.
492 pounds wet, 84 pounds more than the 500 but still well in the safe & sane zone for newbie riders (the typical recommendation is max 500 pounds & 50HP)
The seat is about a half inch higher.
The front tire is a hair skinnier and the rear is a hair wider.
3/4 gallon more fuel capacity, while the 650 sips a bit more juice it still offers a bit more in range as such.
A bit longer in wheelbase but similar frame geometry.
Available in ABS trim just like the 500.
Positive Neutral Finder, this is an awesome feature that I wish other OEMs offered.
Superior mono-shock rear suspension.
First bike ever to be offered in multiple ergonomic configurations: you pick the seat/pegs/bar position that fits your body right.
For a mere $1K difference you really get a lot more.
Still, I prefer the VT500 Ascot. When you get right down to it, it's a VT500 Shadow at heart.