New Kindle Fire Tablets Get Text-to-Speech, E Ink Kindles Don’t

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Kindle Fire HD

Among the new features Amazon is adding to their new line of Kindle Fire tablets is text-to-speech to read ebooks aloud. This used to be one of the main features that set Amazon’s E Ink Kindles apart from the competition because none of the other major brands have ever offered text-to-speech.

But now that Amazon is trying to make their E Ink Kindles as cheap as possible, they are no longer getting text-to-speech either. Both new E Ink Kindles lack any kind of audio support. That’s not surprising when it comes to the $69 Kindle considering how inexpensive it is, but it is rather surprising that the new Kindle Paperwhite doesn’t support text-to-speech or audio files.

I guess if you really want text-to-speech Amazon figures you can get a Kindle Keyboard or a Kindle Fire. The Kindle Touch also had text-to-speech but it’s no longer being sold.

All the new Kindle Fire HD models support text-to-speech and so does the $159 Kindle Fire. I wonder if they are going to update the original Kindle Fire to add TTS too?

Like always, text-to-speech is only available if the publisher allows it (some are crazy enough to complain that it violates copyright law).

According to Amazon, the text-to-speech feature on the Kindle Fire is restricted to U.S. English and is only available in a female voice. It also doesn’t appear as if there are any other adjustments available. On the Kindle Keyboard and Kindle Touch you can choose between a female or male voice and there are three different speed settings.

The voices on the E Ink Kindle are slightly robotic but they are actually pretty good. Text-to-speech has come a long way over the years. Still, TTS isn’t going to be challenging audiobooks anytime soon, which the Kindle Fire also supports. In fact, Amazon introduced another new feature that syncs audiobooks and ebooks together, although I don’t see why anyone would want to buy both.

Anyway, it’s good to see Amazon adding text-to-speech to their tablets, but it’s disappointing to see it being removed from E Ink Kindles.

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12 Responses to “New Kindle Fire Tablets Get Text-to-Speech, E Ink Kindles Don’t”

  1. Nathan, I’ll take another guess on why there is no audio support on the new Kindle e-ink readers. I think there’s a tradeoff between all of these features and battery life. Next to Wifi usage, the audio support is the next biggest user of battery power and considering the light being added to the Kindle the battery would not have enough capacity if audio support were left in.

  2. I totally agree Nathan. Text-to-speech is really quite good for things like news articles, blog posts, and short stories while you are working on a computer or getting ready for work. The voice is sort of robotic, but not unpleasant to listen to, and MUCH better than one might expect. It’s too bad that all of the big eReaders are losing their audio features.

  3. Nook Simple Touch (refurbished) on sale for $59.99

    Nook Tablet 16GB (refurbished) on sale for $133.99

    - all at the Barnes & Noble eBay store

    • B&N has also reinstated their $25 membership discount on new Nook devices bought from their website. This discount was recently rescinded, but now it appears to be back.

  4. This is why I elected to get the Fire HD and why I also keep my Kindle 3G (w/keyboard) which has excellent speakers (nice and loud) and which can play audio books and do text to speech. No need for the Paperwhite and besides, I love the screen on my 3G. I can put my hands all over it and not get fingerprints on it OR turn the page accidentally. Lots of Kindles to choose from. Pick what’s right for you.

  5. Strange that the Kindle app is NOT using the voices specified in the Android settings. Why place restrictions on which voices I use? I get why they deny you from using TFT on certain books.

    All the more reason I suppose to remove the DRM and convert to EPUB.

  6. I am really happy that they got rid of the silver color. Customers seemed to rebel against this on the Amazon reviews, and I think it added to the Grey screen contrast issues. I really like the dark black.

  7. I know this is late, but since Audible, Whyspersync came out and started charging for TTS on there books, I have decided to get a Kindle Touch, so I can still listen to books. My question is can Amazon remove TTS from the Touch and how can we tell which Kidle books support TTS.

    • On all product pages for ebooks it says if TTS is enabled or not under the product details section. Amazon isn’t going remove an existing feature so I wouldn’t worry about that.

  8. So Does the kindle fire HD not have text to speech? and how do you find out if a book can use text to speech?

  9. Nice question Taylor,to the fact that most tts voice now a days use to create platform, that allows users alternative methods to process written information.

    Still just hoped they’ll do something about it..

  10. Here is a reason that I buy both the eBook and AudioBook sometimes:
    Amazon often offers the AudioBook at a substantial discount when you buy the eBook and I often find that by buying both, I end up spending less than if I bought just the audio book.

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