CFS-Technologies no longer supports the Speakonia software, but still allows the download and use of it. Visit the CFS-Technologies site for a free registration key for Speakonia.
Not a fictional Eastern European country from a Marx Brothers movie, Speakonia is actually a modest freeware utility that reads text out loud. Speakonia comes with about 20 voices (all with strong robotic accents) and lets you quickly change the reading speed and pitch. It's also little trouble to correct the pronunciation of words (proper names, for instance). Speakonia can save text in WAV files for playback when you're driving or jogging, but unfortunately it can't save sound files in the MP3 format, so you may need a third-party conversion utility. The program interface is clear and straightforward; you simply select text in any document and press Ctrl C to read it aloud. However, Speakonia lacks controls for skipping to the next sentence or paragraph. In spite of those drawbacks, its decent performance and free price make it a reasonable choice for the vision-impaired or people who'd rather do their reading with their ears than their eyes.