I had the Basic version of Chess Mentor about ten years ago and thought it was ok but a bit expensive. I always wanted to try the more advanced courses and was a bit disappointed to see on their website that you can still only buy the same 'Deluxe' package that they were selling in 2000. I had no idea that Chess.com was set up by the Aficionado guys and was delighted to see the program on here, updated with thousands of new lessons and in a new layout. For £65 a year I decided that it was worth it for me just to have unlimited access to the Tactics Trainer and Chess Mentor, not to mention all the other good stuff.
After only a couple of hours, I can see that this program is absolutely the best way for me personally to learn chess concepts. If you set it up to teach you only what you need (or want to learn about) you can drill yourself in the areas that you are weak in and more importantly, retain the ideas because of having played them out and got feedback.
I can see that the cost may not be justified for everybody and maybe the way the program works is not suited to different learning styles, but I am a more than satisfied customer and would heartily recommend anyone in doubt to give it a try.
I like it very much too. Doing the lessons (adaptive) also taught me that I must have had rather delusional preconceptions regarding my own strengths and weaknesses. I always thought I was a player who likes quiet positional play and should try to avoid unclear tactical mayhem. But from the chess mentor lessons I found I suck in the strategy department, whereas my tactics seem to be rather ok!
You missed one learning tool which is very effective in the beginning, with voice, it's interactive, multiple choice, quizzes, endgame challenge's, find the move... all possible theme's are covered (thanks to the best Tutorial series there from Josh Waitzkin (his book is called "The Art of Learning"). For the start, it's the best and fastest effective training you can get in my opinion:
Ubisoft's Chessmaster 12 "The Art of Learning"
Everything is covered. For the long run, Chess Mentor should be worked with after Chessmaster 12.
Is chessmaster 12 available on chess dot com?
I think the strategy modules even for 1600 players are nearly expert level! I have the book The Amateurs Mind by Jeremy Silman and I can see how he's so tough on his students there if he believes they can handle some of the concepts he uses as 'intermediate' level in Chess Mentor.
I really like the little hints you get in the text though, not the actual hint boxes but the position description. Once you set off in the right direction it is extremely satisfying to see a sequence correctly through to the end.
Erik, chess.com boss, made a review of it!
(well it's not 12... it's 11)
Chessmaster 11 doesn't work with Windows 7 though does it? I had Chessmaster 8000 and really liked Waitzkin's tutorials - pity he couldn't handle being a celebrity chess player.
Regarding Waitzkin, yes that is true. Chessmaster does work with Windows 7 (I run Win7 32-Bit).
I got windows 7 ultimate x64 and Chessmaster 11 Grandmaster Edition works great.
The same on windows 8 release preview(professional x64).
I find Chess Mentor unhelpful for positional analysis, particularly in assessing a position and converting a positional advantage into a tactical one. Whoever writes the lessons is teaching by showing how an expert does it, hoping that the student can learn by osmosis. That's like a surgeon training a student by simply having them observe operations. I find it very unhelpful, and pedagogically unsound. Maybe it is better than other programs, but that doesn't mean it couldn't be much better than it is.