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Natural Reader Vs TextAloud

I started using Text To Speech on windows when i see it on Opera 10. But with latest version of Opera, Speak feature stopped working. It is said that the Speech feature in opera is created by IBM, they no longer support this feature. I have switched from FireFox to opera because of this feature.

I have a plan to switch to Ubuntu, one of the reason i still with windows is Text To Speech. I tried few in linux, none of them have good voice quality.

With opera not supporting Speech, i have to find another program. On searching, i found NaturalReader, TextAloud and some other programs. I have posted the info i collected at http://webhostingneeds.com/tts

After some days of search i decided to go with NaturalReader or TextAloud. Expressivo, IVONA Reader looks good. Both are from same company. They give demo with natural voices too. But i don’t go with that as the voices are not using sapi5. I installed demo, but after seeing it is using their own engine, i removed from the list.

TextAloud is very good program. I see many good reviews about that. I have installed trail it work properly. I like the FireFox toolbar provided by TextAloud. Also many more options than NaturalReader. But TextAloud force you to use AT&T voices Mike & Crystal. If you need extra voice that cost $30/$45 per voice. TextAloud give time limited full functional demo with out natural voices, so you have to use it with your system default voice.

NaturalReader provide a free version. When the software start, it reads some advertisement. If you purchase paid version, you will get 2 natural voices and the voice advertisement in start removed. Good thing about NaturalReader is you have option to select different voices, even languages. With TextAloud, you are forced to buy AT&T Mike & Crystal voices. There are some bad reviews about NaturalReader.

Since i have tried the free version and have option to select voices, i decided to go with NaturalReader Personal. Before purchased i asked sales if the toolbar works with FireFox. They told yes. I asked for demo. They said no demo available for personal version and assured it will work in FireFox. After purchase, i found toolbar not working in FireFox. I asked them why it not working, they told it will work for older version of FireFox (3.5). Current version of FireFox is 3.6. That is not good. They can’t upgrade toolbar for latest version even though they advertise it as a feature. Anyway i am waiting for next release that they told will fix the toolbar. Not sure when it will be released.

Even though i was not satisfied with NaturalReader at first because of FireFox issue, it is work money as you only spend price of two natural voices. Consider the software free. Internet Explorer toolbar works better than TextAloud as it highlight words while reading.

NaturalReader

MiniBoard of NaturalReader is very useful. That is one feature i will miss if i go with TextAloud. But i use FireFox mostly, so prefer a toolbar more than a MiniBoard. MiniBoard will be good to read from non supported applications like Google Chrome.


Posted in Windows

  • Jon

    I would advise anyone not to purchase Natural Reader, they have the uninstall and reinstall non-support support, and as soon as I asked for a refund they quit communicating with me at all.

  • admin

    Last month i purchased TextAloud with no voices. Using it with voices provided with NaturalReader, toolbar works in firefox 4, so happy with it.

    If anyone want TextAloud, use following link to get $10 discount.

    http://goo.gl/O9NbR

    If you have already visited shopping cart page, discount won’t work unless you clear browser cache.

  • Johannes Schober

    I like using NaturalReader, because I love the Miniboard (just click shortcut F9+ctrl is really comfortable to read any text).
    But I agree that the support could be improved (they were not really fast in answering also about the Firefox Issue, but they told me they are working on update it to Firefox 5), but it is really a nice program – got the Professional version, because I needed English and german …
    And after I got used to it, I prefer the Miniboard to a Toolbar, so I don’t care about the update anymore ^^

  • San

    I just purchased Natural reader 10, Personal Version with 2 voices for 49.50$. The software is excellent and the voices are life like unlike the traditional microsoft ones. Before you purchase the voices, ensure that you listen to them for free on their website. I listened to all of the voices and found American Accent voices of Ryan and Heather combination to be the best choice and value for money. The British accent voices could be purchase separately later on. I heard all the British voices and found Graham and Lucy to be the best(each to be purchased and downloaded separately). Please ensure that you type in the text and listen to each voice before you make the decision to purchase the voices. Some of the voices especially that of AT&T is pathetic.

    The Personal version for 49.5$ is the best value for money, as the other features like MP3 editor, cutter and merger could be done by free utilities available for download online. It is not worth paying another 50$ extra for these features. Instead you could use that money to download additional voices like that of Graham and Lucy.

    Once you purchase the software using credit card, you will be send to their download page containing the SERIAL no and download links for the software you purchased.

    I am really happy with the purchase.
    Thanks and Best wishes to the Naturalreader team.

  • Joe

    I was gonna try NaturalReader, but with all the bad reviews, I will be staying away from it. Thank you.

  • Sam

    I bought Natural Reader (Education) and it was one of the worst buying experience I ever had.

    1. The CDs arrived packaged unprofessionally, like a bootleg warehouse.

    2. The software malfunction, did not work, and was shutting down. (it did not work also with word or outlook)

    3. The software was asking to let that company access my outlook through the internet each time I was trying to use the software in outlook.

    4. They do not have customer service, you need to contact them by email if you have problem, they do not have a phone support,

    5. Finally when I ask refund they gave me a phone number, and look like they are a bunch of Asians, with funny accent.

    6. At one point the Asian guy who called himself “Sam” Wang wanted to go into my computer through the internet, and I simply asked if he is crazy? I do not trust these bootleggers.

    7. Then they claimed that that I installed the program on 4 computers and they gave me the time and date, even though it was used only on one computer, but it just show that their software is malicious, and letting them access your computer without permission.

    8. Finally I had to dispute the charges through my credit card company, and after my dispute went through, the malfunction program died altogether with show they are accessing your computer through the internet.

    Stay away from these lousy accent Asians, awkward and dangerous bunch of creeps.

  • Eric

    Both of the products are owned by ”AT&T”
    GO to Natural readers website, at the bottom it says-

    All Copyrights of naturally sounding voicesโ„ข are owned by AT&T Co. 2010 NaturalSoft Limited, all other rights reserved

  • None of them owned by AT&T. These companies resell AT&T Voices.

  • johny

    thank you for all the comments seems that natural reader a stay away … and about entering into computer … no wonder norton give a warning about this …

  • Lara Hayes

    Holy smokes, I have just seen all this about natural reader.

    Basically, I’ve had it for around a year and its all been fine (few glitches but nothing too major), but then it suddenly won’t load. I contacted the customer support given and have been emailing this Sam Wong.

    I told him it wasn’t working. It loaded and then crashed and when I clicked the icon in the system drive it still didn’t load. He told me this: ‘According to your information, NaturalReader is minimized to the system tray for sure.’ Firstly, how on earth does he know that!? After reading the comments above, I am getting concerned. And secondly, I told him I had already done that, hence the reason I emailed him in the first place. He then told me to close the program in task manager…natural reader didn’t show up on task manager. He then, told me to reinstall the program and download a new one or update for $9.99….What on earth? Firstly, the verson I bought was the $49.50 one. So I am confused as to what he means of buy a new one, or update…and secondly, why should I buy a new one when the program has broken itself?! I haven’t changed my computer settings or anything, so why on earth should I have to fork out more money for something I can’t even guarantee to work in the long run. I told him I wanted an alternative or a refund. So, any one have ideas what to do? This has got to be dodgy. DO NOT DOWNLOAD THIS.

  • Lara

    I’ve uninstalled the program now and my computer is running smoother. Pete from Natural Reader has been replaced with Texthelp Tim (a much safer program given to me by my university)!

  • PhotoAce

    I have had natural reader for many years and have been pleased with the product but a couple of years ago when I upgraded I started having problems. The first problem I had was the program would not remain open but as the plug-in appeared in word was still working, I didn’t worry about it too much. After some time word was having a problem opening and would un-register the plug-in. I then upgraded program again to latest version, hoping that they would be a fix but the problem continued to persist.

    I installed the program on a laptop, which seems to work fine, but that’s not the computer I use day-to-day, so I know the program works, just not on the machine I needed to.

    I have completely uninstall and reinstall the program several times, sometimes the program will work immediately after installation, but once it’s closed, the next time it’s opened the problems reappear.

    I have just come online to see if there is a resolution problem and came across this blog having read through the above comments, I was concerned and decided to use the firewall to block the programs access to the Internet.

    And now believe it or not program is once again working but the plugin isn’t working in word but I can get the floating bar and it’s reading text and i can create mp3s once again.

    So if anyone is having problems with the program staying open try blocking it with your firewall. on second thoughts reading the post above block it any way.

  • basurad00d

    All this talk about commercial TTS software made me felt obliged to highly recommend a great FREE one that is SpeakComputer at speakcomputer.com. It works with IVONA voices and has a very simple and sleek interface.

    Here you don’t need to deal with support or need to ask for refunds because the program just works without problems ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Hannes Zietsman

    I have this and it works, but I have a few gripes with it. First is the fact that the office plugin does not work in 64bit office. They claim it has an office plug in and yes it works for 32bit but not 64bit. They omitted to state that fact on there feature listing. I find that the office plugin when used on a 32 bit system is very buggy. The other issue I have with it is the interface(GUI). It is cute at first but it does not work well. you can’t resize it and there is a lots of wasted space. It does not work with windows 7 Aro so you can have it occupy half a screen

    Edit: I meant to say I have natural reader 11. I would not recommend it at this stage.

  • Thank you so much for pointing out TextAloud! I’ve been trying NaturalReader and it’s been a PITA to use compared to what TextAloud offers. On my Windows 8.1.1 PC (Surface Pro 2), the Microsoft Voices (especially David) are more than natural enough for me, plus they don’t require ANY internet connection

  • webhostingneeds

    I switched to Google Chrome + Chrome Speak because i am using Ubuntu now. No use for TextAloud ๐Ÿ™‚

    TextAloud is very good product. But i switched to Ubuntu recently. So there is no way i can use TextAloud in Ubuntu. This move was made possible by Google and the TTS voice they made. On ubuntu, i use Chrome Speak and US English Female Text-to-speech (by Google).

    https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/pkidpnnapnfgjhfhkpmjpbckkbaodldb

    Here is why i switched to Google Chrome

    http://blog.hostonnet.com/goodbye-firefox-welcome-google-chrome

  • I really wanted to stick to chrome on my Surface Pro 2, however, I got sick and tired of Google gimping the experience on PC+ devices like my Surface Pro. For example:

    “- Can no longer pin sites to my Start-Screen; yes, this was possible and straight forward b4

    – Can no longer use my pen input in Windows 8 mode; the pen is a necessity for Chrome ’cause up till today, they fukn don’t support touch selection (so, can’t select text in Windows 8 mode), plus the pen is needed in those situations where I want to hover over menus. See the ongoing issue report here (bit ly/1t3JT1t). In Firefox, although it doesn’t have any Windows 8 mode, it supports touch selection; I just tap and hold for half a second (before the square right-click indicator pops-up) then drag my finger along the text I wish to select, same as I do in any other Windows application, except Chrome.

    – The touch experience is buggy. Sometimes tapping and holding works as intended (opens up the context menu), other times, it (Chrome) just stops responding until I bring my pen close to the screen, OR I unfold my Type Cover and interact with the trackpad.

    – When scrolling web pages with my finger, the scrolling freezes when I do multiple swipes in a short period of time, when my main purposes was to speed up the scrolling. I don’t experience this problem with Internet Explorer 11 nor Firefox

    – Can’t pinch zoom with my trackpad. Again, In every other Windows application that I’ve tried pinch zooming (including in Firefox, picture viewers and text editors like Notepad++), pinch zoom works as intended. But in Chrome, pinch zooming on my trackpad is ignored

    – Can no longer use extensions from third-party sources

    – Highly inefficient power management”

    Who knows what they’ll gimp next…

  • gadigital

    Thank you so much for pointing out this hotkey functionality in TextAloud. Can you believe I’ve used the software for over 3 years and didn’t know of this ability to set hotkeys? This is why it’s always good to read the user guide to get the best out of your software or whatever device.

    I’ve found the software to be wonderful but the little niggling problem was that it had no plugin for Chrome and my preferred mail client – Windows Live Mail. This hotkeys functionality resolves these 2 issues.

    I agree with you that TextAloud is by far superior to NaturalReader which I have also tried. TextAloud allows you to set all kinds of ‘expressions’ to pronounce any combination of text or characters exactly the way you want it read out. This pronunciation functionality is in NaturalReader too but it is far more limited.

  • Hahaha, I never knew you could set custom “expressions” for pronouncing a set of characters! This really helps with properly pronouncing abbreviations and stuff like iOS! All this time, thought it was a feature of Natural Reader that was missing, so I tried my best to manage without it.

    Thank you very much for sharing! You’re right, it’s a really great idea to read the user guide of the software ๐Ÿ˜› TextAloud for the complete win!