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Text to Speech App expert recommendations

I want to find an app that works with AT&T Natural Voices (since I have that) and that can read pdf, web pages, email, Word, etc.  Mainly pdf.  I have been searching and have found some but I'd like some expert opinions from someone who's actually used some of these.  Don't just post links from searching, reply if you know firsthand which are really good and why.  I found: Microsoft Reader, ReadPlease stuff (ReadPlease Plus 2003, ReadingBar 2, ReadWords), TextAloud,

Some require highlighting the text (or copy the text to clipboard) to work.  Do all?  This seems cumbersome for a large ebook.  I assume some image-type pdfs won't work unless you run through an OCR program first?  

These type programs range from free to ReadPlease which would be rather expensive because they have 3 or 4 products that each do one thing, like read from IE, Word etc.  I do not get the impression that more $$ = better quality either.  For example, with ReadPlease not all of the modules even support the ATT Voices.  TextAloud seems decent and reasonably priced but requires selecting the text to be read.  If all require this (but just fail to mention it in ads), then I think TextAloud wins.  But it would be better if you could start the pdf and keep going without having to select the text.
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mark876543
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mark876543
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LRI41Commented:
Well, I am ignoring you admonitions, I have these programs saved, but have not tried any, but at least
you will be aware of them, if not already.

Free Downloads-Text-to-Speech Programs:

http://www.dyslexia.com/helpread.htm

**************************************

IESPEAKER

Neat Net Tricks Standard Issue #144, March 1, 2003  
Date: 2/28/2003 4:07:06 PM Pacific Standard Time

IESPEAKER.  This free download at

http://www.iespeaker.com/

 reads selected text aloud.  Highlight the desired text, right click and select
Speak from the context menu, and IESpeaker reads from the chosen text


*********************************

Lockergnome Windows Digest] Schlepping Shields and the Brute  
Date: 12/29/2002 12:35:37 AM Pacific Standard Time
From: subscriptions@lockergnome.com


Sayz Me v0.51 [2.4M] W9x/2k/XP FREE

 
Sayz Me is a simple text-to-speech reader that can read text aloud
from Web pages, e-mails, or documents. It uses the Microsoft
speech engine and synthetic voices. You can use it to listen to
text and give your eyes a rest, or type in words or sentences to
hear them spoken aloud. Sayz Me allows you to adjust pitch, speed,
and volume, select a voice of your choice, and highlight words as
they are spoken. [MWA]

http://www.pcworlddownload.com/multimedia-graphics/text-to-speech/Sayz-Me.htm

http://www.dirfile.com/sayz_me.htm


 http://sayzme.sourceforge.net/




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mark876543Author Commented:
Thanks for your suggestions I looked at them.

If the best one turns out to be free that's ok, but I expect to have to pay something.  Requirements are:
1. Hopefully it's smart enough not to need you to select or clipboard the text to be read.  This would be a pain on lengthy docs & books I would think.
2. Works well with the best voices, including AT&T Natural Voices.
3. Reads entire pdf files and has nice features like pausing and remembering it's place when started the next day, by saving a small file.
4. Records to mp3.  I would think wav would be too large.
5. Comes with all functionality of the best example of this type software.  No hidden upgrade come-ons later to add functions.

I've learned that just picking an expensive product in no way means it will be best.  Many software companies just charge a lot for junk and count on uninitiated consumers.

Does this field have a clear leader?  I can't tell.  Many so-called free programs have a catch; an expiration or a disabled functionality, they try to hook you in for more and more.  I despise that kind of stuff, I'd rather just pay up front and have zero come-ons to get always one more module.  That's what I hate about Pinnacle software, they're 100% that way.  You pay for it only to find it's full of tricks to get you to buy more of their crap.  Anyway, I digress...

That Neurospeech one from India looked decent but I don't see where it mentions recording to mp3 or working with AT&T Natural Voices.  Being able to use highest quality voices is important because you couldn't stand listening to crappy MS sam for very long.
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mark876543Author Commented:
I don't really want to install a lot of free programs to try because that always runs the risk of garbage-ing up your system.  I was hoping to find an experienced veteran of text-to-speech state of the art technology and get the lowdown.
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LRI41Commented:
You realize you are asking for opinions of others.
If for example, you ask which was the best
anti-virus program, you would get at least
5 or 6 and probably many more answers as
to what in one person's opinion worked the "best" for them.  What is one person's cavier is another
persons garbage.  
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mark876543Author Commented:
Well true but you can usually tell when someone knows what they're talking about.  Like Callandor on photogralpy, the guy has obviously done a lot and knows his stuff, so I'd weight his opinions on stuff he uses higher than most.

When I was asking on video software, all with much experience had a high rating for Sony Vegas.  Sure enough, I am not disappointed with it.  Conversely Premeire which has an older and much better known name, has fallen behind and is stuck with the legacy interface that many feel is quite hard to learn.

So I wouldn't be asking for opinions if I didn't think there was value in it.  But only if people with experience are there to answer.  Software companies mislead like crazy in advertising (since software is sold as-is, they can get away with murder), that's why I value the opinions of users who really have used the stuff.  That's why (no offense) I asked for experienced only, so we wouldn't waste time with discussions like this one :)
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mark876543Author Commented:
Well now it's going to just sit here forever and no one will answer... I can't just delete it.  :(
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