And now, the moment you've all been waiting for. I hesitate somewhat in recommending specific guitars, because even guitars that are the same make and model vary greatly from instrument to instrument. Having said that, here are a few specific models of guitars that I've found to be almost uniformly well constructed, while still having an excellent dollar-value. Although there are hundreds of guitars which would make fine beginner instruments, the following are a few I've had some experience in playing.
Acoustic Guitar Recommendations
These Canadian-made instruments are very highly regarded, and although they're not ultra-common, with a few phone calls to local music stores, you should be able to find one. Price generally runs in the area of $350 USD. Perhaps a little more than you'd like to spend, but the resale value for this guitar will be quite high. Trust me, if you can afford it, this is a great guitar to start on.
Electric Guitar Recommendations
Squier Standard Stratocaster
These aren't WONDERFUL guitars, but considering the beginner-friendly price, they're fine. They tend to have sub-par electronics, but these can be upgraded over time. And, if you ever want to sell, these guitars should have a good re-sale value. You can often find these guitars new for around $200 USD. Word on the street is, if you can find a used, American-made model, grab it up.
Hope these recommendations help out! Please note - these are just my opinions, and they might not be shared by everyone. For more insight into finding a great guitar, check out the Gear Review Archive. Best of luck in finding the right guitar for you!