Editor's Note: This review has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it no longer ranks as a top seven product. The original review is below, but check out our current top seven about Speed Reading Software here.
The Stretch accelerated-reading program by FieldCraft is typing-dependent speed-reading software that is as good as your typing skills when it comes to testing and working the exercises, unless you opt for the multiple-choice option.
Stretch primarily uses the flash technique to improve your reading speed. It also focuses on improving your attenuation, or the distance from your focal point your eye can perceive and process letters. The better your attenuation, the more words you can read at a glance and the faster you can read. It flashes the words on the screen, even in the so-called "scrolling" mode, to force you to give the words your full concentration.
This speed-reading software focuses solely on accurate speed-reading of words. As a result, you need to be an accurate typist as well. Misspellings will affect your score, and this software does not tell you the correct answers when you get something wrong. If you are a poor typist, you can opt for the multiple-choice method, but the program warns against this, as it can become a crutch to accurate reading. As an unintended result, you may find your typing accuracy improves as well, but it gets frustrating in the meantime.
Stretch lacks comprehension exercises or training – a drawback, since there's no point to speed-reading if you do not understand and retain what you've read. The company indicates that increased comprehension comes naturally with increased speed, but if you prefer the reassurance of comprehension exercises and tests, Stretch will not supply that.
The program settings can be configured in several ways. You can choose the number of words that appear during the flash exercises and the speed of your paced-reading exercises. You can also customize the font style and size to reduce eyestrain during your exercises. This speed-reading software even has a repetitive setting, which is especially useful for eye warm-up exercises. With this setting, words and groups of words flash repeatedly at a certain speed. The flashing speed increases once you reach a high percentage of accuracy. However, the same words flash each time, so the exercise will eventually become useless.
Another standout feature is the mentor function. The mentor function assesses your ability as you go through the exercises and adjusts the settings – sometimes to push you, sometimes to give you a chance to relax.
The program has a basic user guide with a search option, but not a lot of step-by-step how-to. For example, we found an explanation of what the scrolling function did, but not the details of using it, such as which lines to type in for the testing. FieldCraft's Stretch website provides an email you can use to contact the company. The company does offer upgrades, should you encounter flaws in the program that need addressing.
Without comprehension testing and with exercises that rely on accurate typing, FieldCraft Stretch isn't as good as other speed-reading software in our lineup. However, if you want to work on your typing skills as you improve your reading speed, Stretch can help you stretch both skills.