TextAloud MP3, by Mary Alice Young
Converts text into spoken words, easily
TextAloud MP3 is a versatile time saver for folks on-the-go that converts any text into spoken words or MP3 files for later listening. It is always ready to read aloud text from your e-mail, reports, eBooks, web pages, on-line news and documents while you jog (yes, jog), work or commute. What surprised me most was the "naturalness" of the voice and rhythm of the text -- no artificial stops/starts! Its learning curve is very low and friendly to use from the Help function to the VCR-style playback controls.
TextAloud supports the optional new Natural Voices from AT&T, which are among the most natural sounding computer speech systems in the world and are available in UK English and other languages. Information you need is read to you in a pleasant, natural sounding human voice. Although the AT&T voices are excellent, I thought the two voices supplied were quite good. Your choice. Leave your computer behind and let TextAloud MP3's unique Text to MP3 conversion save your documents to MP3 audio files for your Palm, Pocket PC or portable MP3 player.
Some of the better and more useful features include:
Its versatility is best illustrated by example. It provides accessibility options for computer users who are visually impaired or print disabled. Students with reading difficulties or those who need auditory support in order to grasp their course content could benefit. Educators and students can convert books and study sheets to digital format and save them as WAV or MP3 files. Doing Internet research? Just highlight the text you want to copy, press CTRL C and a window pops up. It asks if you want to add this to existing text or create a new file.
A few glitches. It is not obvious how to add or select different supplied voices. I included a product code, JJ850/MD in the text. It read it OK, except for the MD which it read as "Maryland". Ditto for DC. I suspect the program can be "trained" otherwise. Yes, you can train it and add your own, custom words.
It supports 95/98/NT/2000/XP and can be run on a P100 system with 16MB of RAM! Download it for $24.95 or a CD with the optional AT&T Natural Voices for $51.90, including shipping. Free technical support is also included via e-mail. For more info or to download a free fully functional 20-day trial and updates, go to www.nextup.com.
Mary Alice Young is a HAL-PC member who has her own secretarial service.
Charles W. Evans is a HAL-PC member and the Magazine’s Reviews Editor who can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org