English is the third most spoken language in the world however, you can almost guarantee the person you stop to ask for directions on holiday doesn’t understand a word, phrase books are great but only if you want to ask where the library is.
The Pocketalk Translator is a dedicated translator with its own built in 2-year cellular data plan that provides coverage in over 130 countries/regions, this means you don’t need to worry if your mobile doesn’t work abroad and risk incurring roaming fees. It also means you don’t have to whip out an expensive smart phone in public where potential thieves might be eyeing it up, from a distance it looks like a basic cheap telephone. Basic and cheap it certainly is not, there are two main functions to the translator voice translation and image translation. The Pocketalk can translate 74 different languages by using the best translation engines around the world making it recognise local dialect and slang, this device can translate 55 voice bilaterally (the sentence is read out in the chosen language), 19 voice-to-text bilaterally (the sentence is written on the screen), and up to 37 more obscure languages voice-to-text unilaterally to help you muddle through. The built in camera can be used to take a photo of a sign or a menu for example and it can translate what is written in 55 languages, it will automatically register the language so you don’t need to select it before taking the picture which is handy if you have no idea what language it is written in.
The Pocketalk is super intuitive, just follow the on-screen prompts when setting up, then simply select the language you speak and the language you want to translate it into. Press and hold the large button at the front of the device and speak into the device, the noise-cancelling microphone does a good job at picking out your voice in a noisy room. When you release the button, your phrase will automatically be read out or displayed on the screen, or you can type your phase if needed although the small touch screen keyboard isn’t easy in larger hands. The large screen is bright and clear allowing you to easily show the person you are with, designed for conversations you can speak naturally in full sentences and it can handle up to 30 seconds of speaking per translation. A conversation with someone will always be slightly stilted but it beats attempting mime or sitting in silence. After the two years of complimentary global data is up you can renew the SIM for $50 for another year or you can connect to Wifi or a hot spot to continue using it. The Pocketalk will store up to 10,000 translations letting you scroll through the most popular, “two beers please” for example and tap it to have it read out again. When testing the Pocketalk out it handled some surprising odd sentences with ease, it managed “I want my snake hat back” in Lithuanian, Japanese and Spanish but when I tried “make the Vikings leave my socks alone” it came back “so please see the Vikings to measure my socks weather”. The awkward thing is you will have no idea what you have said so if you receive an offended look it might be worth running it through google translate on your phone to avoid a difficult situation. So, why use the Pocketalk instead of your mobile phone? it’s cheaper to replace than most smartphones if it goes walk about and it doesn’t hold your valuable data, it is also so simple to use, it works in 130 countries, it won’t drain your phones battery and believe it or not, not everyone owns a smartphone. RRP £249
- Impressively accurate majority of the time
- Compact and intuitive
- Noise cancelling microphone
- Translates 74 different languages
- Conversion function
- Text-to-translate camera
- Healthy battery life (4.5 hours continuous translation/2.5 days standby)
- Clear audio
- Keypad is small
- One occasion it stopped registering our voice but was fine after a reboot.