July 11, 2005.
This free software allows you to convert any text to speech. Highlighting any text and pasting it into the reading area of the software will allow you to listen to the text while you perform other task at your computer.
Utilizing the "Microsoft Mary" voice, Natural Reader provides a very good substitute for the real thing. Although slightly robotic, which is to be expected with most text to speech programs, you can easily understand Microsoft Mary without extra effort.
Additional features include being able to convert text to a WAV or MP3 audio file. Although I have not tried this feature, I can see the advantage of being able to burn pages of text to a CD and listen to it at my leisure. Students of any age would benefit by recording pages of reading assignments and listening to your assignments on your iPod, PocketPC's, and CD players.
With an output of over 4 million letters, you can convert hundreds of pages of text to an audio file.
Allowing Natural Reader to run on your computer enables you to highlight any text, on any site, press Control and F9, and have that text read to you without pasting to the read board. You can read news, articles, emails, Microsoft Office Word documents, and PDF files.
The free version has an additional speed control to allow you to adjust the speech to suit your preference. Interested users can also purchase the Professional version of Natural Reader, which gives you two additional enhanced voices, AT&T Natural Voice "Mike" and "Crystal".
Total download is about 10 MB for the free version. Visit their web site at: www.NaturalReaders.com to listen to voice samples before downloading and view the pricing structure for the advanced version.
It's been my personal experience that, unless you need the enhanced voices, the free version will work fine for most customers.
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