These days, who has time to read? For busy business owners, reading is a luxury. This is what makes audiobooks such a valuable tool. They allow busy people to consume information while accomplishing a mindless task like cleaning the house. While this arrangement works wonders for titles found on Audible.com, what about the documents you must read that haven’t been made into an audiobook?
For example, what if you have to read a long Word document about a project, or a blog article about an important development in your industry, but, dang it, you just don’t have the time? Thankfully, there are some great text-to-speech tools available online that will do this heavy lifting for you. Granted, the narrator comes off sounding a bit robotic, but when it comes to helpful freeware, beggars can’t be choosers.
SpeakIt! is an extension for Chrome that reads text on a webpage back to you. With the extension downloaded, all you have to do is highlight the text you’d like read to you and then click on the SpeakIt! icon in the upper-right corner of Chrome. Then, just like that, it’s storytime.
SpeakIt! boasts of a few handy features, like the ability to adjust the playback speed 10x faster or slower than the standard 330 words/minute, as well as the ability to translate text and utilize different languages.
On the downside, a quick read through of the reviews reveal that some users experienced bugs after using SpeakIt! for more than a few minutes. Additionally, while SpeakIt! works great for static web pages, playback is painfully slow for pages in Chrome that allow for text to be edited, like apps in Google Drive, Gmail, Adobe Reader, etc.
@Voice Aloud Reader
For busy audiobook aficionados on the go, @Voice Aloud Reader for Android is a great mobile solution. It’s available for free on the Google Play Store. The app also has plugins available designed to enhance the functionality of reading specific files, like @Voice PDF Crop Plugin.
@Voice Aloud Reader works by uploading text to the app, then, with the app open, select play and it will be read aloud to you. The app does a good job at retaining the formatting of the uploaded article. Additionally, while the text is being read, the app highlights the current sentence that it’s on, making it easy to follow along. Like Speak It!, @Voice Aloud Reader lets you adjust playback speed, and it’s compatible with a variety of files, like PDF, DOC, TXT, EPUB, FB2, and more.
Overall, @Voice Aloud Reader is a highly-rated app. The biggest annoyance may be advertisements, but you can make these go away by upgrading to the pro version. Plus, the fact that the advertisements only show up in the display and they don’t interrupt the audio playback, makes this a non-issue.
So go ahead and download these two free text-to-speech tools, knock out that list of assigned readings you’ve been putting off, and then share your review with us in the comments below!