Voice Dream–My Impressions After Listening for a few Hours
Now that I’ve spent some time with Voice Dream the Text to Speech Reader I wanted to share a few thoughts. First of all, for those that don’t know, Voice Dream is a text to speech reader that takes whatever text you feed it and reads it back to you while a highlighter moves across the text so you can follow along. It’s a very good idea that lets you listen to text on the go so you can keep reading your books, Word documents or web pages while you do other tasks.
Voice Dream supports opening files from Dropbox, Bookshare, Pocket, Instapaper, and Gutenberg as well as the clipboard or entering text into an editor. Voice Dream can read PDF, Plain text, MS Word, MS PowerPoint, Apple Pages, RTF and HTML files, so right off the bat you have a pretty big pool of resources to pull from.
Really the only omission is the Kindle Mobi format, but those are DRM protected and not directly supported. But if you have Calibre installed that can easily be remedied. Follow my previous article How to Remove DRM From Your Kindle Books using Calibre.
Once your file is loaded, Voice Dream presents you with a simple player where you can read along with the text and follow the highlighted word. As you would expect, you can pause, jump ahead, rewind, scroll the screen and press to jump ahead further. You can also create bookmarks, look up words, change the reading speed and even edit the text your reading. You will also see the total length of what you’re reading.
While the program is very easy to use and importing text is incredibly simple, when it comes to the voices there are a couple of issues. For the most part the voices are fine, but make no mistake, you will never mistake this for a human voice. You won’t hear any inflection, punctuation causes some odd pauses and many words are pronounced incorrectly. And don’t be too surprised when you hear words spoken together as one. I haven’t quite figured out if it’s a combination of a short word next to a long word that does it or just the computer catching up.
That being said, even with the monotone voice, you are perfectly capable of following along and getting all but the most minute of details. (There’s an example, is that minute as is in time or minute as in small?) I don’t know that I would hand over the reigns to Voice Dream when it comes to technical material, but for stories, news articles and helping to proofread something you may have written yourself, it works very well. You can easily load a book onto your iPod and go about your day and keep listening. I’ve listened to several chapters of a book while doing chores around the house and it worked fine.
Overall, Voice Dream is quite good with an easy to use interface and a voice reader that is better than 90% accurate. With this app in hand, just about everything can be turned into an audiobook. However, the only real grip is the cost of the app. At $10 it’s a bit expensive, especially when you have to pay even more to get additional voices. If it’s going to be $10, then you need to throw in all the voices for free. If I have to keep paying, you need to back down the price. I got Voice Dream when it was $4.99, which I thought was a little more reasonable, although still on the high side.
If you’re looking to convert you book or text into speech, this is worthy choice. I’ve been quite pleased with it’s performance and while the voice isn’t quite the "silky smooth" player they make it out to be, it’s quite competent. The voice could use a few improvements, but it’s a very useful tool and should help you get through a lot of content or help study as you read along and follow the highlighted text.
The only other one I’ve seen as a contender is "Voice Reader Text to Speech". It’s comes in at $1.99 as the price tag, but you have to pay another $0.99 to allow for offline reading and any additional voices will cost you $0.99. The "Offline" cost is a bit of a hidden one and completely unnecessary if you ask me. That’s just shy of being a scam. But, it looks to be an interesting program and may be worth further investigation.