Chinese textbooks

The Chinese course I attended last year used the book Chinesisch für Deutsche (Chinese for Germans). The problem is that it doesn’t contain information on how to write Chinese characters at all. You have to figure it out by yourself. And the first dialogs are about mother, father, cat, dog and the fact that some students learn while others have a break. Not the kind of vocabulary that I suppose is most needed during the first days in Shanghai.

So I think about getting a new book. ChinesePod is going to cover Integrated Chinese throughout the next semester. I also read about the New Practical Chinese Reader which is prefered by some reviewers. How on earth should I know which one is better?