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Old 10-02-2007, 11:41 AM   #1
kjmay
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Reader with Audio Capability

I'm looking for an ebook reader that can also "read" the text to my dyslexic daughter through headphones. I've done some searching and looked at Sony's and iRex's sites, but I don't see a way to get the reader device to do more than display the text and play mp3 files.

I think the combination of listening to the books plus the ability to follow along, highlight, underline and annotate would be a real plus.

Any suggestions are much appreciated.

Thanks!
Kathy

Last edited by kjmay; 10-02-2007 at 11:46 AM. Reason: Additional information
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Old 10-02-2007, 11:52 AM   #2
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I don't know of a device that will do that, but I think there are some PC apps that do ... I think MicroSoft Reader might, but I haven't really played with it.

Perhaps (probably) someone else around here knows more on the subject.
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Old 10-02-2007, 11:55 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kjmay View Post
I'm looking for an ebook reader that can also "read" the text to my dyslexic daughter through headphones. I've done some searching and looked at Sony's and iRex's sites, but I don't see a way to get the reader device to do more than display the text and play mp3 files.

I think the combination of listening to the books plus the ability to follow along, highlight, underline and annotate would be a real plus.

Any suggestions are much appreciated.

Thanks!
Kathy
There *is* text-to-speech software available for Linux devices. However, I don't know that any of these readers have a T-T-S port available.

Right now, playing MP3 audio-books is probably all you're going to be able to do.

Derek
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Old 10-02-2007, 12:00 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by delphidb96 View Post
There *is* text-to-speech software available for Linux devices. However, I don't know that any of these readers have a T-T-S port available.

Right now, playing MP3 audio-books is probably all you're going to be able to do.

Derek
Or, as some else pointed out use Microsoft Reader on a PC. It has TTS. A tablet PC might be a good choice for this. Audible becomes a good choice at this point also which has a better selection of books than mp3 does.

Dale
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Old 10-02-2007, 01:11 PM   #5
kjmay
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Sounds like I need to look at the tablet laptop. Thanks for your advice!

Kathy
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Old 10-02-2007, 11:41 PM   #6
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MS Reader does support Text-to-speech. There is text-to-speech built into Windows, but you might want to look into better sounding text-to-speech such as that from AT&T.
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Old 10-03-2007, 05:04 AM   #7
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I used Verbose, it is a text to speech program which will read aloud any text or save it as mp3.

Last edited by christy65; 10-03-2007 at 05:08 AM.
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Old 10-04-2007, 02:40 AM   #8
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I don't think I could stand to listen to Microsoft's Reader's speech functionality reading out an entire book. It's pretty "robotic"!

An alternate - although more expensive - solution that you can use with many books would be to get an unabridged audiobook version of the book you want to read, and have it playing in parallel as you read the book. Most current bookreaders will let you read and play MP3 files simultaneously.
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Old 10-04-2007, 09:28 PM   #9
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TTS

You may want to look at TextAloud from NextUp.com. It is inexpensive and if you buy it with the AT&T TrueVoice Crystal/Mike voices, you can get the program for $10 off. I bought it recently. I also bought the NeoSpeech Kate/Paul voices from the same source. Although the AT&T voices are much better than the the voices that come with WinXP, I think the NeoSpeech voices are even better sounding. From reading the forums at NextUp.com, it appears that quite a few dyslexics are using their software.

Not to sound like a commercial, but TextAloud can read a TXT, HTML or PDF file. It can also read text pasted from the clipboard. It also comes with plugins for IE and Firefox, for reading web pages. You can also save the audio as a WAV or MP3. All in all, a nice program for the money. Oh, they are coming out with a major upgrade soon. If you buy the current version, you get the new one free.

You can also get some voices by Acapela and RealSpeak that sound more lifelike. I did some testing with some of these other voices and found two things that I didn't like. First, they all seem to have too much silibance for my taste. Second, they mispronounce works far more often than either the AT&T or NeoSpeech voices.

BTW, you can use the AT&T and NeoSpeech voices with any other voice software, including MS Reader. The Acapela and RealSpeak voices sold by NextUp.com are only useable with their software.

One other company that may be worth a look is Cepstral. They have a wide selection of voices and some of them sound pretty good. I still think that NeoSpeech and AT&T are the best, but it doesn't hurt to listen to them all.

To hear samples of all of these voices using your own text, Google on the word "demo" and each of the voice product names, in turn (TrueVoice, NeoSpeech, Acapela, RealSpeak, Cepstral). You will find web pages where you can enter short passages and hear what they sound like.

If you need foreign language voices, all of these companies have a selection. For some reason, NeoSpeech only has oriental voices (I know they are currently owned by a Korean company, but come on). I was hoping they had Spanish, but they don't.

Last edited by jbenny; 10-04-2007 at 09:32 PM.
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Old 10-04-2007, 09:46 PM   #10
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TTS Samples

I have created two short samples using the NeoSpeech voices I bought. The text is the first few lines from an Agatha Christie novel.

Kate - http://www.filecrunch.com/file/~wlrpop

Paul - http://www.filecrunch.com/file/~ytogqx
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Old 10-04-2007, 09:52 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by christy65 View Post
I used Verbose, it is a text to speech program which will read aloud any text or save it as mp3.
I haven't tried that one, but I have tried four other freeware TTS programs. They all seem to do a pretty good job. However, I noticed that TextAloud was more accurate with pronounciations. I think that it does something with the built-in dictionaries that come with the voices. Also, TextAloud has the ability to let the user correct pronounciations, in a separate user dictionary. I haven't seem that feature in any of the freeware programs that I have tried.
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Old 10-04-2007, 10:06 PM   #12
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I haven't tried that one, but I have tried four other freeware TTS programs. They all seem to do a pretty good job. However, I noticed that TextAloud was more accurate with pronounciations. I think that it does something with the built-in dictionaries that come with the voices. Also, TextAloud has the ability to let the user correct pronounciations, in a separate user dictionary. I haven't seem that feature in any of the freeware programs that I have tried.
AT&T Natural voice also allows you to setup a custom dictionary for correcting words.
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Old 10-04-2007, 10:34 PM   #13
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I know you'd probably want to be able to do this for any book, but for starters you could give her some of the 60 or so free classics available at http://www.babblebooks.com/shopping/shoppodcasts.asp and match them up with the Sony versions available on this site. The mp3s will play at the same time as you page manually through the book.
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Old 10-05-2007, 12:56 AM   #14
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AT&T Natural voice also allows you to setup a custom dictionary for correcting words.
Yes, it does have a program that lets you customize the dictionary for AT&T voices. The NeoSpeech voices also come with a similar program. Both of these work by defining the phonemes that make up a word and each app only works with that vendor's voices. What I was talking about was a way to change pronounciations within the higher level application that affects all voices, regardless of vendor. Of the TTS apps that I have tried, only TextAloud seems to have that feature. There may be others, but I just haven't seen one yet.
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Old 10-05-2007, 01:41 AM   #15
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TTS in MS Office

In MS Office 2003, you can enable TTS capability. To do this, you have to install the optional speech components from your original CD. For some reason, the Office help only mentions speech recognition, not TTS. Even after you have installed the speech components, the speech toolbar doesn't show any buttons for TTS by default. You have to customize that toolbar to add the TTS buttons. Strange that MS hides the TTS features like this. I assume that newer versions of MS Office have similar capabilities.
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