NewsAloud Review

Still Not Ready For Primetime

Submitted by oldzkool on Sun, 2007-11-25 18:33.
Author's Product Rating:
Value For Money: 
Ease of Use: 
The lowest price: 17.95$
You can buy it at RegNow for that price.
Accurate conversion of text, simple interface, and outputs to WAV or MP3.
Awful voices, dated design, and expensive add-ons.

In the last 10 years, we've seen some amazing advancements in computing. Back then I was running a system with a 266MHz processor, 64MB RAM, and a 8MB video card. I'm now running a notebook with a 2GHz dual core processor, with 2GB of RAM, and a 128MB video card. Text to speech programs back then were awful. Just imagine how much better they are now!

I think this is where, if this was an audio review, I would cue the record scratching to a halt.

NewsAloud is a great idea. It takes your RSS feeds, and converts them to speech. Not only will it do this instantly, you can also save the files for later enjoyment in either WAV or MP3 format, making this compatible with virtually all portable players.

NewsAloud has some potential. The interface, though dated, is very clean and easy to work with. I was able to quickly find my way through the menus. I changed some important settings, and added my favorite feeds to the list. The moment I pressed play, a voice was reading back my news feeds with near perfect accuracy. I also liked the fact that I could save the files to MP3, and play them on my iPod while I drove to work.

Unfortunately, the positives stopped there. The most glaring of flaws is the built-in voice. It sounds just like the computer voices did 10 years ago. The voice was very accurate, but the flow was so choppy I just couldn't get into the information I was being presented. When I decided to change the voice settings, the program locked up twice, blaming the text-to-speech engine. I also had a problem adding some feeds. Of the 5 feeds I added, only 3 worked, even though they worked on my other readers. On a side note, if you want to really creep out the kids, choose the "Mary Whisper" voice. Yikes!

On the NewsAloud website, they offer new voices that claim to be much better than those included. For $35, I could buy two new "Natural" voices to improve the program. While that was nice of them to provide this add-on, $35 is more than the program itself. If they really wanted to sell this program, they should have included at least one of these "Natural" voices.

In the end, potential is really all NewsAloud has to offer. With the amount of time I spend every day with headphones glued to my ears, I would really love to have my news feeds read back to me. It's very possible that if I dropped the extra $35, I would have really enjoyed the experience. I know $35 is not a lot of money, but add-ons should never cost more than the program itself. Until they include better voices, I just can't recommend NewsAloud to anyone.


For a program that focuses on text to speech, the speech just needs to be better. If the next version includes better voices, I'll give it another shot.