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 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 colour, control reading from the system tray or by the global hotkeys. Balabolka 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.
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All versions:4.4 stars
out of 5 votes
Current version:5.0 stars
out of 1 votes
My rating:Write review
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Version: Balabolka Portable 184.108.40.2062
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.
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