Speed Reader-X is an inexpensive speed reading program with fewer features than the best software we tested, and it requires more manual input than a lot of other programs. It’s an older program that’s still available on CD-ROM, though Speed Reader-X also has a web version. However, we had some difficulty finding the homepage through a normal web search after we purchased it – be sure to bookmark the page so it’s easy to return to.
Unlike many of the other online programs we reviewed, Speed Reader-X’s online version isn’t a subscription. You get full, lifetime access for a single payment of $29.95. There’s also a bundled package with a few more features – for example, a large 17,000-volume eBook library. The Ultra Mind Improvement Studio package costs $49.95 and comes with programs for comprehension and memory enhancement. Unlike other speed reading software we tested, like the Reader's Edge, the basic program allows you to add as many users as you want.
The training area has a 45-minute video that goes over the basics and the history of speed reading. The same video is available on YouTube for free. The lesson area includes 10 lessons, and you can choose to do an adult session or a session designed for children. As far as we could tell, the difference between the two is the text at the end of every lesson. The selections for children are easier and more appropriate. In each lesson, there’s another video that gives you pointers about speed reading. These lessons are of a digital avatar reading a script, and the graphics and images are less than stellar and leave something to be desired.
After the video, there’s a warmup activity followed by a practice test. The practice test gives you an idea of your current reading speed. However, Speed Reader-X doesn’t put lot of focus on comprehension. We didn’t find any quizzes about the content. Under the View Graph section of the menu, the program has some bare-bones reporting options – a single bar graph with the date and your average reading speed.
In the basic Speed Reader-X program, the library, called the Practice Area, has only the first chapters of two classics. However, you can import your own content into the program’s tachistoscope variation, a speed reading tool that flashes text at a specific speed. There’s even a link to the Gutenberg eBooks Collection. While most speed reading programs only offer books that are in the public domain or available for free on the internet, we preferred software like 7 Speed Reading, which populates the books in the program so you don’t have to upload them yourself.
Also, you manually adjust the speed the tachistoscope flashes text at to challenge yourself. Other programs auto-populate speed based on your performance, and the best programs have both options available.
Many programs advertise realistic goals for improving reading speed along with comprehension, but Speed Reader-X suggests it can help you reach impossibly high speeds. Independent research suggests that an average speed reading score should land somewhere between 400 and 600 words per minute. Any faster and you trade comprehension for speed. Additionally, we weren’t overly impressed with Speed Reader-X’s outdated tools. During our testing, we found programs with larger libraries and better graphics that are easier to use and have more reporting features.