Using Text to Speech on a Rooted Sony Reader PRS-T1

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Sony PRS-T1

The Amazon Kindle is no longer the only major E Ink ereader to have text-to-speech. The Sony Reader PRS-T1 is now capable of offering TTS as well, but there are a couple of catches, 1) the PRS-T1 has to be rooted and 2) text-to-speech will only work with DRM-free ebooks.

The minimal rooting package for the PRS-T1 comes pre-loaded with two ereading apps that have TTS capabilities built-in, FBReader and Cool Reader. All you have to do is download the TTS data package to enable text-to-speech on the Sony PRS-T1.

One way to get TTS up and running on your PRS-T1 is to install the Android Market—all that is required is installing two apps—and then you can quickly access the required TTS data files from there automatically after the first time launching TTS.

Otherwise you’ll need to download this PicoTTS data package and then extract it to the root of the PRS-T1, the internal sdcard.

Once the data package is setup, text-to-speech will work with Cool Reader. Just open any ebook and hit the menu button, then tap More, and then Read Aloud.

To use TTS with FBReader, you first need to install the FBReader TTS plugin app. If you don’t have the Android Market setup, you can download the apk here from the FBReader website. Once that is installed, a “Speak” option is added to the More list from the menu.

TTS works about the same with both apps. Cool Reader has options for adjusting the speed of the voice and the volume. Cool Reader will also continue to run in the background so if you close the app without stopping the TTS it will continue to read aloud while opening other apps and doing other things.

Overall, TTS works pretty well on the PRS-T1. The voice is kind of roboty (that’s a new a word I’m coining) but it’s not too bad. There are probably other TTS voices that can be installed but I haven’t tried any. If you want to hear a sample of what TTS sounds like on the PRS-T1, there’s a demo at about the 2:58 mark on the video from this earlier post.

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14 Responses to “Using Text to Speech on a Rooted Sony Reader PRS-T1”

  1. Nathan,

    This gives me an idea:
    Can you browse SAMBA/CIFS shares and play music from them? I haven’t rooted mine yet, but I’d love to listen to some music I have on a NAS when I’m inside.

    Thanks for your efforts! Love the site!

    Cheers,
    Paul

  2. Play music from a windows share over the network?

  3. Paul: There are quite a few UPnP/AV client Apps for Android.
    No reason at least one of them can’t work. Ask around Mobileread.

  4. Text to speech on the PRS-T1 sounds pretty good with the voice of Loquendo TTS Susan in combination with the Cool Reader.
    Unfortunately the Cool Reader refreshes the screen with every sentence which is being read – that is a lot of flickering. Therefore I am looking for a more e-ink display friendly reader software now for the PRS-T1.

  5. But the partial refresh will reduce the screen resolution and therefore may reduce the readability. I will give it a try anyway… Thanks your suggestion.

  6. I unzipped voicedata- (espeak%2Bsvox) .zip and put the folder (espeak-data) in /sdcard (I also tried /) but TTS doesn’t work in Cool Reader.

  7. Apparently you can download IVONA onto your PRS-T1. I found this at Mobileread:

    1. Download the IVONA Main Speech APP and the Speaker Data of your choice on a compatible android device.

    2. Backup both with Titanium Backup

    3. Copy and extract the APK from the backup to a PC folder

    4. Copy the APK into any folder in Reader

    5. Install on Reader

    Unfortunately, I don’t have any other Android devices except my ereader and I’m a newbie to this stuff so don’t really understand the instructions. Can you please put in some more detailed instructions and some links? Thx in advance.

    Btw, THANKS YOU SO MUCH for this site! I love all the videos and tutorials and now I love my [rooted] Sony Reader as well (I nearly returned it).

    Nathan, would you say for features that this model Sony is still the best on the market?

    • It’s hard not to say the PRS-950 because it was Sony’s last aluminum body reader and it’s really nice, but yeah the PRS-T1 has a lot more features so it gets the top nod, especially once hacked and you can do stuff like this with text-to-speech. I just wish Sony would have upgraded the T2 in more ways.

      • Does it get the top nod for features when compared to all brands of e-readers currently on the market (price excluded)? It feels like newer models are coming out with less and less features…

  8. Are you able to confirm what you mean by “then extract it to the root of the PRS-T1, the internal sdcard.” I have rooted the device, now just trying to get TTS to work on it. Much appreciated.

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