Tinytalk along with manufacturer contact information. This is not intended
to be an evaluation and no endorsements are implied by these descriptions.
Prices aren't listed because they can change rapidly; contact the
appropriate manufacturer for pricing.
Synthesizers can be internal or external and "smart" or "dumb." Internal
synthesizers plug directly into the computer's slots; some are designed for
standard slots such as those on desktop or high-end laptop computers, while
others are designed for specific laptops. External synthesizers use either
serial or parallel ports to connect to the computer.
All synthesizers speak using a two-step process: they translate text into
phonetics and then pronounce the phonetics. "Smart" synthesizers contain
circuits that do both, whereas "dumb" synthesizers use the computer itself
to do the text-to-phonetics translation with a software driver. External
synthesizers are always smart; internals can be either smart or dumb.
Smart synthesizers usually cost more because they need to contain a small
computer of their own; dumb synthesizers usually require more memory to
hold the software driver and slow the computer down a bit (this isn't a
problem except when the computer is running multiple programs or receiving
1590 Oakland Rd., Suite B112
San Jose, CA 95131
This line of synthesizers includes the Accent SA (external), Accent PC
(internal, standard slot, smart), Accent Mini (internal, standard slot,
dumb) and several laptop-specific internal dumb boards. All of them are
based on the SSI263 chip.
Automated Functions, Inc.
6424 N. 28th Street
Arlington, VA 22207
This is a dumb internal board for Toshiba laptops. It uses the SSI263
Personal Data Systems, Inc.
100 West Rincon Ave., Suite 103
P.O. Box 1008
Campbell, CA 95009
This is an external unit based on a proprietary digital signal
processor. A battery-operated version is available.
BG MICRO COMPUTALKER
P.O. Box 280298
Dallas, TX 75228
This unit is an internal smart card, but uses its slot for power only; it
needs to be connected to a serial port (an external power supply is
available from the manufacturer, which avoids the need for a slot; however,
you then have a bare board with no case). It speaks at a rather slow fixed
rate and has no settable parameters. It uses the General Instruments chip
set (CTS256 and SP0256). It costs significantly less than the other
synthesizers described here.
BRAILLE 'N' SPEAK
109 E. Jarrettsville Rd.
Forest Hill, MD 21050
This is a dedicated-function battery-operated portable computer which can
be used as an external synthesizer. It can emulate the Echo PC, though the
speech sounds different since it uses the SSI263 chip. Newer models have a
native emulation mode which provides more speed control and better
Digital Equipment Corporation
146 Main Street
Maynard, MA 01754
This is an external unit based on a proprietary digital signal processor.
The current model has been discontinued, and two new models (external and
smart standard-slot internal) offering faster speech among other things
will be available shortly.
RC Systems, Inc.
121 W. Winesap Rd.
Bothell, WA 98012
This is an internal standard-slot smart board using a proprietary
Echo Speech Technology (formerly Street Electronics)
6420 Via Real
Carpinteria, CA 93013
There are two models of the Echo PC. The older one (also known as the Echo
GP) is an external unit based on the TMS5220 chip. It has only two speeds,
and squeaks when a program flushes the speech buffer. It was discontinued
in 1990. The newer model (introduced in mid-1992) has a much greater speed
range and better responsiveness, eliminates the shutup squeak, and can be
operated on batteries.
Echo Speech Technology (see above)
This is an internal dumb board based on a more recent TI LPC design. It
provides more parameter control than the original Echo PC, but the speech
quality is not as good.
115 N. Keats
Louisville, KY 40206
This is an external battery-operated unit based on an OEM speech board from
RC Systems (speech is identical to the Doubletalk PC). This should not be
confused with the Laptalker from Automated Functions, which is a laptop
with a pre-installed ASP board. It is not currently in production.
337 S. Peterson
Louisville, KY 40206
This is almost identical to the Laptalk, and is in current production.
24027 Research Drive
Harmington Hills, MI 48335
This is an external unit based on the SC01 chip. It comes in two models, A
and B (B is apparently the current version) which differ primarily in the
available speech rates.
Creative Labs, Inc.
2050 Duane Ave.
Santa Clara, CA 95054
This is an internal multimedia sound card which uses a proprietary digital
signal processor to provide digitized speech playback, multi-voice music
and a MIDI interface for musical instruments. It is supplied with a
version of SmoothTalker, a text-to-speech driver manufactured by First
Byte. SoundBlaster clones exist, but not all of them include SmoothTalker,
which is necessary for speech synthesis. Unless your computer has expanded
(EMS) memory, SmoothTalker will require about 180K of main memory. It may
not run well on slow XT-class machines. SmoothTalker is rather processor-
intensive; it may interfere with telecommunications if you're trying to
listen to the output at the same time.
310 Racquet Drive
Fort Wayne, IN 46825
This an internal board based on the SSI263 chip. It is available in both
standard and laptop versions. Although a dumb board, it includes onboard
memory to hold its software driver which has a number of unusual features
such as the ability to "fast-forward" or "rewind" through the spoken text.
3227 Rain Valley Court
Tallahassee, FL 32308
This is an external synthesizer based on an Amiga 500 computer. It can
emulate either a Dectalk or a Votrax PSS. Since the translation and
pronunciation software is supplied on disk, the manufacturer can update the
unit without requiring it to be sent in.
675 Conger Street
Eugene, OR 97402
This is a digital-to-analog converter module that connects to a parallel
port. It is supplied with SmoothTalker, which provides text-to-speech
capability. See the entry for the SoundBlaster for limitations.
55 Park Street, Suite 2
Troy, MI 48083
This is a line of internal dumb boards (both standard and laptop) based on
the SSI263 chip. Earlier models didn't talk well on fast computers. Newer
models don't have this problem, but the Sonix software driver (required for
Tinytalk) which was bundled with the earlier boards is now an extra-cost
item for some models.
TYPE & TALK
Votrax Inc. (see above)
This is an external unit based on the SC01 chip. It was one of the first
synthesizers available for personal computers. Its speech settings cannot
be changed under software control, pitch and rate are not independent and
it sometimes mispronounces words after the buffer is flushed.
Votrax Inc. (see above)
This is an internal standard-slot dumb board based on the SSI263 chip. It
is no longer in production. It uses the Sonix software driver (also used
by the Synphonix boards).