Ever downloaded a hefty text file, such as a free e-book or a product manual, and then come to the sad conclusion that you probably won't ever have time to read it?
If so, here's a great idea. Why not convert the text to an MP3 file, and listen to it on your MP3 player when you're out and about!
The idea of doing this was actually brought to mind recently when I received a recommendation for a Windows program called Panopreter, which you can read about at www.panopreter.com. This program costs $29.95 for the Pro version, but there's a Basic version available free of charge. However, I can't really recommend it, as the Basic version seems to lack the ability to save the converted text as an MP3 file. Also, the extremely large "Start Download" button on the web site is not what it seems - it's actually an advert for a program that will download some printer driver update software. I don't like sites which deliberately mislead, so no recommendation for Panopreter I'm afraid.
Thankfully, there are still a couple of ways to create MP3 files from text. And best of all, they're both free and they're both web-based so there's no software to install.
The first site is Voz Me (www.vozme.com). This really is very simple to use, and requires no sign-up or registration. Type or paste some text into the box on the front page, choose whether you want a male or female voice, then click the Create MP3 button. That's all there is to it. The conversion takes just seconds, at which point the file starts playing. There's also a download link, to save your MP3 file.
The second recommended site is Yakitome (www.yakitome.com). Unlike VozMe, Yakitome requires you to set up an account by specifying an email address, username and password. Once you've done that, the site is free to use, and works in a similar way to VozMe. Type or paste your text, click the button, and wait. For some reason, Yakitome takes much longer to do the conversion (typically a few minutes), and there's a handy countdown timer to tell you how long it'll be before your file starts playing. Cynics might wonder whether the delay is deliberately introduced to give you time to read the adverts on the page!
Once the file starts playing, right-click the green document-like icon to download it.
So, which of these services is my favourite? Ultimately, regardless of usability and time delays, the only thing that counts with such a service is the voice quality. And for that, Yakitome wins hands-down.
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