NextUp just released a new version of TextAloud, maintaining its position as my personal favorite text-to-speech tool. The app enables your PC to read virtually any text on your PC using a selection of voices, including the phenomenal Natural Voices from AT&T Labs. Past users of TextAloud should immediately notice the interface is greatly improved, making text conversion more effective. In this latest version, TextAloud improves on the core functionality, adding direct support for reading PDF, Word, and HTML files in the application. A batch encoding tool automatically coverts text in files to audio tracks playable on a portable audio device or burnable to CD. The pronunciation tool offers more options, making the voices even better at handling complicated tech jargon and proper names. A proofread hotkey automatically reads back documents to you, helping reduce mistakes. You can still choose between immediate playback of information, or saving the spoken audio as WAV, MP3, or the more efficient WMA files to playback when you're offline. Instead of wasting precious time reading at your computer, TextAloud lets you catch up on all your important documents and e-mail while you commute, exercise, or clean house. Archive stories from your favorite news sites in MP3 format and play them back no your portable media player, iPod, Pocket PC, or Palm OS device. Using one of those FM transmitters, TextAloud effectively creates a custom version of the morning news on the drive to work. The TextAloud learning curve is minimal, with controls that work just like you'd expect a VCR or digital audio recorder to function.
TextAloud makes converting text files to audio insanely easy (I once converted a 200+ page book), but integration with the AT&T voices is what sold me. If you've ever tried using text-to-speech with some disappointment at the robotic voices, try the AT&T voices with TextAloud; they are stunningly good. Try out the included voices, then upgrade TextAloud with the Natural Voices, which are, in my opinion, the best text-to-speech voices available.
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