I'm over half way through the program now and can happily say that I'm not discouraged! I had heard from others who do speak Mandarin that learning outside of an immersive Chinese environment is not possible. I'm no longer convinced that this is true. Mind you, I haven't tried conversing with Chinese co-workers yet (I'm waiting to learn more), but I'm certain that this day will come. I'll be signing on for the 30-tape epic when I'm done with this mini-course. Oh, get a good book with pinyin in it as a companion. The Basic Chinese (I think -- tall & red) book seems great. I used Lonely Planet & I'm not impressed -- a lot of the terms differ from what Pimsleur is teaching.
This program offers a lot of value for how much it costs. It is the best audio Chinese program you can buy in its price category. Pimsleur did a good job on this one. I particularly appreciated how they explained how to pronounce the pinyin equivalent of "ren." They said that this was pronounced not with a R but a cross between an R and Y. As you know, Mandarin is a language that does not always map 1 to 1 over to English. This great explanation on how to pronounce a difficult word for Westerners learning Chinese typifies the thorough research Pimsleur did to create this program.