What E-Reader Has Text-to-Speech?
By John Papiewski
Though an e-reader gives you access to a large library of books and periodicals, you might not have as much time as you'd like to read them. The text-to-speech option helps solve this problem, letting you catch a magazine article as you get ready in the morning or during the drive to work. Not all e-readers have the text-to-speech feature; knowing which ones do may help you choose one.
Text-to-Speech vs. Audiobooks
For a traditional audiobook, or "book on tape," a person reads the text out loud into an audio recording such as a cassette, CD or MP3 file. Though publishers offer extensive libraries of audiobooks, you might not find a favorite title available in that format. An e-reader with text-to-speech reads printed text from an e-book or Web page and speaks via a speech synthesizer. You retain all the benefits of the original printed document but you don't need to look at it.
The Kindle Touch is Amazon's high-end e-reader, offering a text-to-speech reader as a built-in feature. The Touch can read Web content, e-books and magazines. It has controls for the speed of speech and you can select a male or female voice. Amazon's Digital Rights Management, or DRM, gives publishers the option to block text-to-speech, so some e-books may not allow the use of this feature.
iPad and iPhone
Apple's iOS software, which runs on the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch mobile devices, can read text selections out loud. To enable this function, tap the "Settings" app, then "General" and "Accessibility." On the Accessibility screen, turn on the "Speak Selection" option. From that point, the device will speak any text you select, whether in an e-book reader app, Web page or document. When you select the text, a black button appears; tap the button to hear the selection.
Mantano E-book Reader for Android
The Mantano E-book Reader is an e-reader app available for mobile devices that run Android software. As an e-reader, it supports e-books in the EPUB format as well as Adobe PDFs. When you tap a speaker icon, the reader speaks the text. By default, it speaks the entire document or book unless you select a portion first. As with the Kindle, the Mantano e-reader obeys DRM restrictions for text-to-speech. You can download alternative voices from the Android market to customize the sound of the speech.
Chicago native John Papiewski has a physics degree and has been writing since 1991. He has contributed to "Foresight Update," a nanotechnology newsletter from the Foresight Institute. He also contributed to the book, "Nanotechnology: Molecular Speculations on Global Abundance."