CNET Editors' review
Balabolka Portable is a fully functional yet totally portable version of Balabolka, a free text-to-speech (TTS) application. Balabolka means "chatterer" in Russian, and this program lives up to the name. It's based on the Microsoft Speech API (SAPI) and its default voice is Microsoft Anna, but it's compatible with a wide range of voices, including high-quality simulations that can cost quite a bit. You can customize the voice, the TTS properties, and the interface. As we noted, it's totally portable, with everything you need to use it contained in one download. You can carry it with you on a portable storage device and run it from any Windows PC. It can read text aloud from a wide range of files, including Office files, Web pages, and text files. It includes the Ogg Vorbis software for generating high-fidelity sound.
This version of Balabolka requires no installation and makes no change to the registry. We clicked the extracted executable, and the program opened with a plain, businesslike interface with the familiar Windows-style layout: File menu, icon-based taskbar, and tabbed main view. With basic slider controls for rate and pitch, it's easy to alter the selected voice's properties, while more settings are available on the Properties tag. We navigated to a saved text file, opened it, selected the default voice, and clicked the Read Aloud button, which functions much like the Play button in a music player. Balabolka did a fine job navigating long words, hyphenated words, and all punctuation. The voice has the slightly mechanical quality of synthesized speech, but the intonation is natural. Fiddling with the sliders produced effects ranging from greater clarity with subtle shifts to hilarious effects at the extremes. We saved a selection as an audio file in several formats and played it back, something we feel is one of the program's most useful features. While there's plenty of help available, including lots of extras like dictionaries included in the download, Balabolka is easy to figure out.
Balabolka is compatible with most common spell-checkers, including Microsoft's and those for Unix, Linux, and other environments. This is a top-class TTS program, yet it's totally free, totally portable, and totally easy to use. It's also highly recommended.
From Ilya Morozov:
Balabolka Portable is a Text-To-Speech (TTS) program. All computer voices installed on your system are available to Balabolka. The on-screen text can be saved as a WAV, MP3, OGG or WMA file. The program can read the clipboard content, view the text from DOC, RTF, PDF, ODT, FB2 and HTML files, customize font and background color, control reading from the system tray or by the global hotkeys. Balabolka Portable uses various versions of Microsoft Speech API (SAPI). It allows to alter a voice's parameters, including rate and pitch. The user can apply a special substitution list to improve the quality of the voice's articulation. This feature is useful when you want to change the spelling of words. The rules for the pronunciation correction use the syntax of VBScript.
The portable version of Balabolka can be run from a USB memory stick or other portable drive. In order to do this, you need to download the archive from this web-site and unzip it to the USB drive.
What's new in this version: version 126.96.36.1996 added the option "Open folder in Windows Explorer when saving of audio file is finished" to the window "Audio Files" and small improvements.
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All versions:4.4 stars
out of 5 votes
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Results 1-5 of 5
Version: Balabolka Portable 188.8.131.522
You can have it read back to you anything that you copy onto your clipboard. It's not tied to any one specific program. I used to use CliCkSpeak with Firefox, but it no longer works with the new versions. Worst part of it all, it doesn't work with any other programs. Balabolka Portable works flawlessly, and best of all, it's free!
As for many saying that the voice sounds robotic, that may be due to the fact you might still be running an older Operating System. If you upgrade to Vista or Windows 7, I believe you will hear a much more normal sounding voice. This has been my experience as I moved through all the OS's. As far as I'm aware, this program and many others only work as well as your system allows. Meaning, it works within your computer's capability specs.
None, Nothing, Nada!
Bottom line: If you want an invaluable program to read text back to you effectively and clearly, use this program. I don't really use it's interface, I just open the program, minimize it so it stays open. Then I just highlight and copy anything on any program I want read, right click it, copy, then right click on the Balabolka Portable icon on the Taskbar and choose Read Clipboard Aloud. That's it.
I highly recommend this program. By the way, I'm running Windows 7 64_bit and it works just fine.
Version: Balabolka Portable 184.108.40.2061
Although not perfect, nothing ever is, this program works flawlessly! It read text back with a nice natural flow. The voice it as good as the OS your using can produce. The fact that you can save the text as an audio file just completes it for me.
None really. I didn't give it a full 5 stars only because I didn't have much other programs to compare it too in order to find out what this program might be lacking. Thus far, it works perfect
Thus far, it works perfect! I highly recommend it to anyone! I've only tried it on my OS and it works fine. If it helps, I'm running Windows 7 64-bit, 12 gig RAM, and the i7 Core Intel processor which is a real speed demon.
"Nifty little program."
Version: Balabolka Portable 220.127.116.117
One great use for the program is teaching a child to read. My 3 year old is entering words in from story books to read book at same time is learning to read and spell.
Do not have any negative comments
"(Almost) Portable TTS program"
Version: Balabolka Portable 18.104.22.1688
It really works as advertised and is portable, if you are satisfied with the one male SAPI5 voice or the two female voices on Windows 7. Many features.
If you are not happy with the limited choices of SAPI5 voices on Windows 7 or XP, you will have to install tv-enusa.exe on the computer It will install with no trouble on Windows XP, and with very little trouble on Windows 7 for SAPI4 voices.
This program works better than the regular, permanently type of installed program my Windows 7 computer. The voice varied in speed on that program quite a bit, but not with this portable version. This is enough reason to use build over the one that is permanently installed on the computer. If you want a variety of voices, a dozen or two of SAPI4 voices, you must install, TV_ENUA.EXE, on your computer. Windows XP, has no problem with doing that installation, and Windows 7 wants to convert TV_ENUA.EXE into a compatible file, so let it, and it then installs without a problem.
Sorting through added features that I use over the years is a problem with many them. They suffer from ever increasing bloat and deciding if any of the new features are worth it and using the menus to set them up is irritating to me. This program can save files in many formats such as Ogg Vorbis files. My question is why? Many MP3 players won't play this type of file (Sandisk owners you're in luck, if you have some deep philosophical dislike for MP3 or WMA files many Sandisk players will play Ogg Vorbis.) This version may have some interesting features that my 2007 doesn't. It will do what the earlier Balabolka versions will do, convert text to speech and then save them as mp3 files, which is just about the only thing I require of a text to speech program, other than being understandable and keep a constant speed in speaking.
The nice things that the CNET editor has to say about this program, I agree with on this version.
"Works like MS Talk but inflections seem better"
Version: Balabolka Portable 22.214.171.1242
With MS voices, intelligibility and inflections are better
still crappy voice (computer voice)
I t works a bit better than MS but I have uninstalled and will look foe another
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