Pediaphon is a website which lets you convert Wikipedia articles into audio format. It lets you search for Wikipedia articles and uses text to speech technology to automatically generate audio files which can you listen to in your browser or download.
It's a very quick process to search and generate the results. It gives you an MP3, a playlist for Windows Media Player, a playlist for Winamp and a podcast (.xml) which you can drag and drop into iTunes.
You can even request Wikipedia articles via your mobile phone, although at the moment that requires sending an SMS to Germany - plus you'd need to beware of data rates on your mobile phone. The other option is to download a WAP application to your phone which lets you search on the phone, and then get a download link for the converted MP3.
For podcast and audio book fans, this sounds like an awesome way to be able to browse and learn from Wikipedia while on the go. For example, you could set up your own self education course by selecting a topic and putting together related Wikipedia articles.
Say you're travelling to Italy. You could set yourself up an Italy 101 course by listening to the entry on Italy, followed by the articles on Italy's geography, government and politics and culture. You could add in information on the specific areas you plan to visit, like the Amalfi Coast or Rome.
I downloaded the entry on Australian of the Year, Tim Flannery, and although the sound quality was good, the speech quality was disappointing. I expected a robotic voice, but at times it spoke a little too fast to be quite clear. It also sounded like a robot for whom English was a second language - it had a European accent which was fine except when pronouncing names or other words which it approached phonetically. With a more sophisticated speech to text program, this service could be a nice way to access Wikipedia on the go, but if you're used to audio book quality, you might not enjoy it so much.
Thanks for the tip, Aseem!
Convert Wikipedia Articles from Text to Speech MP3 podcasts [Online Tech Tips]