The trial version of TextAloud, a text to speech converter tool for Windows, does not include the more natural sounding voices that come with the $29 version. That’s unfortunate, since that’s really what draws the line between nice-sounding text to speach and the I-am-a-robot-trying-to-speak-a-human-language sound. (The Macintosh OS includes a text to speech tool that sounds as artificial as TextAloud’s trial version voices.)
To really test it, you have to buy it. Or you can use the interactive demo on the web page: enter text, choose a language and it gets read aloud to you. It’s kind of fun to choose a different language than the text to hear the authentic accents. 😉
Installation options include a browser plug-in that displays the TextAloud controls and options. This is pretty handy for quickly listening to text on a web page. You just select the text on the page and click the speak button. You can set the pause length for periods and paragraphs. There are a couple controls that don’t make sense right away. The included help files are pretty good, but didn’t explain those functions.