I used a different set of language software to brush up on French and Italian before going to Europe: Transparent Language's French Now! and Italian Now!
Much cheaper, and worked great-- I was just brushing up, though. I don't know how it would be for a beginner. It was recommended to me by the chair of the French Department at Davidson College, so there is some academic approval of this (though he'd also say the best way to learn is to go to France for a year!).
I acquired the French Rosetta Stone software and it isn't as good as other language tools. Obviously living in France is the best (but that'll cost more than $300). But I think audio, DVD and software is the best because pronunciation is a huge part.
The Rosetta Stone starts off well with basic "man, woman, boy, girl" but within 5 screens you're on "The woman is riding on the horse". And that's a little bit of a big jump. Remember that each screen has 4 words / phrases! And it doesn't come with translations. It's purely pictures and the French words. So working out sentence structure is a little tricky.
I think there's a Rosetta Stone demo you can download. Maybe give that a go first. For $300 I wouldn't recommend it.
the stuff is amazing. you learn the language just like a native speaker does...there is no english in any of the lessons. this results in you being able to speak the language intuitively...you arent trying to translate on the fly. its the most expensive for a reason. used by countless universities and government agencies...it really does work. good stuff. however, if youre just interested in learning a few words or specific phrases as opposed to the whole language...youd be better off with something else.
I have the Rosetta German on my PC. Instead of teaching you one word at a time, it shows you a picture of something and then a complete sentence to describe it. Then it changes maybe one thing in the picture and makes the corresponding change in the sentence. If you think you could learn that way then go for it...