Review: eSpeak is a powerful language emulator that turns any chunk of text into speech | Download Product Review - CNET Download.com

Review: eSpeak is a powerful language emulator that turns any chunk of text into speech

Get one of several robotic voices to read any bit of text you type using this multilanguage text-to-speech synthesizer.

eSpeak is a nifty speech-to-text program that will perfectly enunciate anything you type. It rarely trips over any words -- even incredibly complicated ones -- and recognizes punctuation and advanced sentence structures. Though it could use some improvements, in terms of speakers, it leaves Microsoft's built-in speech-to-text options in the dust.

By default, eSpeak supports only four different language styles and allows you to alter their pace, timing, and volume. However, most of the default speakers sound very close to each other and there aren't many accents -- just an American and British English speaker. However, the speakers are able to pronounce plenty of different languages. If you go through the Readme file that comes with this app, you'll find codes for additional voice variants, effects, and different synthesizer methods. If you've already installed the program with its default settings, you will need to run the installer all over again and specify the additional voice variants, which you want to use. The application sports an XP-era layout, but that makes it very light on your processor, especially if you have an older computer. We were able to copy/paste any amount of text and the app turned it into speech with just the click of a button. We tested the app for a couple of different languages, as well, and the app did not fail to deliver. The only downside to eSpeak are its highly-computerized speakers, which, after some time, might give you a headache.

Overall, eSpeak is a useful tool for those who need it and a fun toy to play with for those who don't. It's miles ahead of Microsoft's built-in accessibility options and most third-party downloads, as well.

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