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Typing Software Reviews

Typing Tutor 7
by Davidson / Simon & Schuster

For Ages 10 and up

See also the Summary Rating Table for comparisons with other Typing software titles, and the SuperKids Buyers Guide for current market prices of PC and Mac versions.

Reviewed on:
Children's Software Screen Shot Pentium90 with 8MB and a 2XCD

Content
Typing Tutor claims to help its users improve speed and accuracy. If our reviewers' experience is typical, those claims are true. "The good news," said one of our staff members, "is that I increased my typing speed by 40 percent in one day using Typing Tutor . (Ed. note: OK, he still only types 35 words per minute, but it was a major improvement!)"

The program consists of lessons and tests. Once past the beginner level, the user can choose to practice on selections from interesting literature, or on stories about old movie clips. Speed and accuracy may also be built, using three games, two of which our reviewers found captivating: an arcade-style game reminiscent of the old SDI game, where the user must protect cities from descending "word bombs" -- correctly typing the word launches an interceptor; and a word search game, where words are hidden in a block of letters.

Ease of Install / Use
We had a little trouble installing Typing Tutor on one of our reviewer's PC's: the installer loaded an older version of QuickTime for Windows than one already installed on the machine. Similarly, the machine wanted to install WIN32S, even though one already existed on the test system. Neither problem caused any difficulty, but we would recommend that you opt not to accept the install options for these two add-ons, if you know you already have newer versions on your PC.

Our reviewers reported one difficulty in initial use of the software. A computer novice-challenging question presents itself when a new user is asked to designate the file where records are to be kept. On a Windows 3.1 machine, the default suggestion is for a directory on the CD-ROM drive, which is not possible. (CD-ROM's are read-only devices. You must change drives and identify a new location.) They also thought a "back" button would be a nice addition to make it easier to go back one screen, when moving between the program's many features.

Although the manual is limited to the jewel box insert, the program does a good job of self-explanation. In addition, Davidson provides toll-free phone support, and a 30-day money money back guarantee.

Methodology
Typing Tutor is a good example of an intelligent interactive program. Users start by identifying their typing experience level (beginner, hunt & peck, etc.), then the program selects a learning path whose pace and direction is based on the user's demonstrated speed and accuracy. The program also knows a few tricks. "I've always cheated a bit, stealing a quick look at the keyboard," admitted one of our reviewers. "Typing Tutor made that impossible in some lessons and tests, by using nonsense words and phrases."

Proxy Parent Value
Proxy parent value is SuperKids measure of how well and how long a program captivates a user's attention. Typing Tutor scored well on this measure for children who wanted to improve their existing typing skills. The program's use of over 100 interesting literature and movie clips makes the requisite "drills and tests far less tedious than the typing class I took in junior high," according to our parent reviewer.

Best for...
Hunt and peck typists found the program most helpful; beginners found the program relatively unsupportive.

Bottom-Line
Typing Tutor is a great program for anyone - including adults - interested in improving their typing skills. It would not, however, be one of our top choices for beginning typists.


See also the Summary Rating Table for comparisons with other Typing software titles, and the SuperKids Buyers Guide for current market prices of PC and Mac versions.



Children's Software System Requirements


PC

Macintosh
Operating System Win95 or Windows 3.1 System 7 or higher
CPU Type and Speed 486/33 or faster 68040 or Power PC
Hard Drive Space 1 MB n/a
Memory (RAM) 8 MB 8 MB
Graphics 256 color (SVGA) 256 color display
CD-ROM Speed 2X 2X
Audio Sound Blaster or Windows-compatible sound card n/a
Other Needs mouse n/a

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