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Where can I get a good text-to-speech program?

Posted By : Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on December 13, 1999

Question

I am looking for some text-to-speech software. SoundBlaster had one that I played with several years ago but I do not seem to be able to find anything now. I have a lady who works for me and English is not her first language. If she could have the computer read much of what I have to send her it would make many of her days easier.

-John

Answer

This question was answered on December 13, 1999. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.


Text-to-speech software has been around for many years and has gotten better, but it still does not come close to what we see in the “movies” SoundBlaster started shipping a program called Dr Sbaitso with its sound cards back in 1989 This program took any text file and played it back through synthesized voices that sounded like Dr Steven Hawking While crude, it was a very enjoyable program to play with Voice recognition and speech software has been developed mainly for the visually impaired but can be very useful in an application such as what you have described One of the more unique programs that I have come across for text-to-speech is called “Talk-To-Me” This program has the ability to read e-mail, letters and documents as well as web pages It can verbally greet you with the date and time or speak anything that you type It can even remind you of events in your calendar It works with AOL, Hotmail and Yahoo mail and even has support for several languages such as Italian, German, Spanish and French The system requirements to run the program are Windows 95/98/NT – Pentium 75Mhz or faster – 16 MB or RAM – 7 MB of disk space – a sound card and speakers The first time you run the program the “Wizard”, which is a little cartoon character, appears on your screen and verbally walks you through the setup and configuration (More programs should incorporate this method!) If you have a large number of messages in the Inbox of your e-mail program, you may want to trim it down before attempting to use this program so that the importing of you messages into the reader does not take forever Once you have configured the program to act as your e-mail program, the fun begins! It does a pretty good job of using inflections when the sentence has an exclamation point and will read uppercase letters and words as acronyms It has an easy interface for reading Word, Notepad, text files or even what is currently on your Windows clipboard To read a web page that is open, simply right-click on the Wizard and select “Read Web Page” Talk-to-Me is “shareware”, which means that you can try it before you buy it A free limited trial version of it can be downloaded at www.talk-to-me.net The cost of the program is $25 and it can be purchased on-line at their secured ordering site.

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Posted by Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on December 13, 1999

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