Expressivo 1.3 is an inexpensive consumer package that allows you to convert digital text into audio.

Screen-reading software has been available for quite a while, and Windows has a built in utility, Narrator, that does a fairly good job of converting text to speech. The options in Expressivo 1.3 are quite extensive, however.

As well as reading emails, office documents and web pages, or being able to convert printed texts into audio books, Expressivo 1.3 can become a virtual assistant. RSS streams can be converted to speech to provide a virtual radio service, and event notifications mean that you have quite an effective personal organiser to hand.

Expressivo 1.3 allows you to export speech as audio files which can then be played on an MP3 device, which is particularly useful if you want to create your own audiobooks, for example.

Expressivo 1.3 claims also to provide more realistic voices – so listening to an email from your boss should sound less like commands from a Dalek, even if the content retains a certain less than human quality. In practice, Expressivo's voice, "Jennifer" was less effective than the multiple avatars provided with Voice Reader Studio, for instance, tending to halt slightly between words and phrases.

Expressivo 1.3 is a slick application with a Vista-style interface. It is easy to jump into the various functions and features of the Ivo package; while Voice Reader Studio offers the same elements – in fact, a few more for editing your sound files - you have to move through various menus to find them. In contrast, Expressivo 1.3 provides clear buttons at all times.

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