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Old 06-12-2010, 04:38 AM   #1
haino
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Text to Speech Facility

Can anyone offer advice on the text-to-speech facility. In particular I would like to know
  1. Apart from Amazon Kindle do any of the other "more common" readers offer the text-to-speech facility. I have had a look at the Ebook Reader Matrix but the ones showing this facility are not readily available in the UK.
  2. Does the text-to-speech facility work well or does the output sound like a strangulated computer generated voice.
  3. Finally does the text-to-speech drain the reader battery quickly.

Thanks. I look forward to your reply
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Old 06-12-2010, 04:44 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by haino View Post
Can anyone offer advice on the text-to-speech facility. In particular I would like to know
  1. Apart from Amazon Kindle do any of the other "more common" readers offer the text-to-speech facility. I have had a look at the Ebook Reader Matrix but the ones showing this facility are not readily available in the UK.
  2. Does the text-to-speech facility work well or does the output sound like a strangulated computer generated voice.
  3. Finally does the text-to-speech drain the reader battery quickly.

Thanks. I look forward to your reply
Any of the Hanlin V5 clones (BeBook Mini, Astak Pocket Pro, etc) offer it. Naturally it sounds like a computer generated voice; it is a computer generated voice. I certainly wouldn't want to listen to it for very long; it's certainly not a substitute for an audiobook.

Last edited by HarryT; 06-12-2010 at 05:27 AM.
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Old 06-12-2010, 05:24 AM   #3
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If you have a strong interest in text to speech, you might want to look at dedicated text-to-speech devices such as the Booksense XT, the Book Port Plus or the Victor Reader Stream. These dedicated devices let you select your favorite voice, speed up or slow down the rate of speech, set bookmarks, etc.

They also makes wonderful hands-free MP3 and audio book players - since they are generally geared to the visually impaired, all the controls are done through pushing buttons while navigating through voice menus. Perfect for the times you can't look at a screen - in bed at night, while jogging, driving a car etc.

The text-to-speech available in mainstream ereaders is understandably inferior to dedicated devices, and offer only a fraction of their functionality. This is no criticism - the devices are, after all, targeted to completely different markets.

FWIW, in my experience, text-to-speech drains the batteries less than displaying the same info on a screen. I get about 40 hours of playback time on two alkaline AAs in my Book Port, about 30 hours with NIMH batteries, and with lithium batteries, playback time is close to 100 hours.
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Old 06-12-2010, 05:27 AM   #4
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Here's a YouTube video illustrating TTS on the BeBook Mini:

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Old 06-12-2010, 07:33 AM   #5
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The Elonex 511EB, sold by waterstones in the UK has TTS but I have no idea what it sounds like. The Bebook Neo is supposed to have TTS coming out in a firmware update but this hasn't happened yet. The kindle obviously has TTS and the ASUS DR900 about to be released in August also has TTS.

It would be very informative if people people could download a quick demo of the TTS on their readers like Harry has done.

Mike
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Old 06-12-2010, 08:34 AM   #6
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According to Apple, the iPad has a user accessibility option called VoiceOver that is able to work with iBooks.

Since I don't have an iPad yet, I have not tested this! I am still hoping to win one.

- M.
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Old 06-12-2010, 02:31 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by haino View Post
Can anyone offer advice on the text-to-speech facility. In particular I would like to know
  1. Apart from Amazon Kindle do any of the other "more common" readers offer the text-to-speech facility. I have had a look at the Ebook Reader Matrix but the ones showing this facility are not readily available in the UK.
  2. Does the text-to-speech facility work well or does the output sound like a strangulated computer generated voice.
  3. Finally does the text-to-speech drain the reader battery quickly.
Thanks. I look forward to your reply

1) in addition to all the models already mentioned the only other one is the iPad. You can also use MSReader on a PC.

2) The sound is not as good as a well produced audio book, with most TTS the computerized sound is still there. Some TTS are better than others for instance the Kindle TTS is actually quite good, and much better than the PC. The only thing that does annoy me is the misspronounciation of heteronyms and the occasional skip because the processor cannot keep up (the latter part is a kindle issue)

3) On my kindle if does drain the battery faster. The difference cuts the time between charge from two weeks to one week. That's about 15hrs of straight play time before a charge is needed.

I use it all the time especially between commutes and working out. That's an additional 15hrs of reading I could not have done otherwise.
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Old 06-12-2010, 02:36 PM   #8
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...t's certainly not a substitute for an audiobook.
You obviously have not listened to David Bach self read reading of "Automatic Millionaire".
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Old 06-12-2010, 02:42 PM   #9
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You can also get an add-on for the firefox browser that does TTS (free obviously).
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Old 06-12-2010, 03:40 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Vintage Season View Post
According to Apple, the iPad has a user accessibility option called VoiceOver that is able to work with iBooks.

Since I don't have an iPad yet, I have not tested this! I am still hoping to win one.

- M.
Yes it works. What is interesting (well, to me) is that the book I tested, "Here, There Be Dragons", that I bought from Apple's iBooks store, is specifically noted in Amazon's Kindle format as "Text to Speech-Not Enabled-the Publisher has requested not to Enable Text to Speech for this Title".

I'm wondering if Apple got around this by putting Text-to-Speech under Accessibility (it is actually a completely different interface-not just the text-to-speech, but all gestures as well to control the iPad).
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Old 06-13-2010, 01:36 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by =X= View Post
2) The sound is not as good as a well produced audio book, with most TTS the computerized sound is still there. Some TTS are better than others for instance the Kindle TTS is actually quite good, and much better than the PC. The only thing that does annoy me is the misspronounciation of heteronyms and the occasional skip because the processor cannot keep up (the latter part is a kindle issue)
I agree. I have heard people complain because the Kindle isn't natural enough. However, for my taste its wonderful. I'm not sure you could get much better and still have it computerized. The small problem is not only the heteronyms as mentioned by ==X=, but also abbreviations. It if you end a sentence with "alas." it insists that it is "Alaska". Likewise "Miss." is Mississippi.

So it all depends on how tolerant you are. If you can ignore these small pronunciation problems you will love it. If you expect it to be like an audible book you'll hate it. There doesn't seem to be a middle ground.

For me, I won't get another reader if it doesn't also speak the text. My new car takes a headphone jack in, and I can listen to the book over my car speakers. It sounds even better than using the Kindle's speakers.
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