Whether traveling internationally or interacting with locals who don’t share your native language, language barriers can make simple tasks like ordering food or introducing yourself feel impossible. If you expect to interact with speakers of other languages often, a language translator device can be a worthwhile investment. With a variety of models with translation abilities ranging from six to 106 languages, you can find the right translator for your needs.
For a high-quality translator that covers all the bases, Alcorrect’s JoneR model stands out among the pack. With 55 languages, 75 accents and photo translation capabilities, this translator is worth the higher end price.
What to know before you buy a language translator device
Language translators create efficient, two-way translation with processing delays of less than half a second. This real-time translation makes them significantly more effective and faster than an electronic dictionary or simple translation app. Here are some things to consider before making your purchase.
Are you going to have Wi-Fi or cellular data? Some devices require a SIM card, but the majority work off of a Wi-Fi connection or a hotspot, which tends to be easier to access worldwide. This means a translator may not be as useful for a trip backpacking through the Amazon as it would for a European tour.
language translator devices have a significant amount of range, with more languages meaning higher prices. If you only plan to travel to one area or a region where only two main languages are spoken, a low-cost model with your required languages could be the right fit for you. But if you plan to travel to many different areas or communicate with speakers of many different languages, then you may need to spend more on a device that can translate more languages.
Language translators are meant for more than translating the occasional word, so you will need to have it at all times when you need language help. To avoid your translator running out of battery in the middle of a conversation, carefully compare the battery life of different translators before making a purchase, and then plan ahead for when you can charge it during your trips. As most of these devices come with USB charging cords, you will also need to be aware of what outlet adapters you may need for the areas you travel to.
What to look for in a quality language translator device
Standalone vs. app-compatible devices
Higher-end devices will be standalone, ensuring that all you need for successful language translator is the device itself, while app-compatible devices usually operate off of Bluetooth and are controlled primarily from the app. If your device requires an app, you’ll need to be aware of your phone’s battery life and Bluetooth capacities as you travel. Some travelers do prefer app-compatible translators, as the apps will frequently have updates that add features or smooth out bugs.
If you need to be able to understand street signs, menus and other written language, you may want to spend a little more on a device equipped with photo translation. These innovative models have high-definition cameras equipped with software that reads foreign text and displays it in English. This helpful tool may not work for all of the languages that your device can translate, so make sure to check that it works for the languages you need before making a purchase.
When translating on busy streets or in crowded buildings, translators can get confused by the number of sounds, leading to an inaccurate translation. High-quality devices are sometimes equipped with noise-canceling technology to combat this problem, isolating the closest line of speech and blocking out the rest to keep your translation as accurate as possible.
How much does a language translator device cost?
A translation device can cost between $80 and $360. The more inexpensive devices usually only translate up to 10 languages, while mid-range devices can translate up to 100 languages. The high-end devices edge out the middle-grade models with features like noise-canceling technology and photo translation.
Language translator device FAQ
Can I use a translation device that requires an app if I don’t have an international phone plan?
A. Yes. Most of these devices run off of Wi-Fi, which you can access on your phone regardless of whether you have an international plan. There are some apps that require data, so check the user manual to be sure.
Why is there more than one type of English listed on my translation device?
A. English, like other languages, has a variety of dialects and accents within it, and your device distinguishes between them for a closer translation to the English you actually speak. Most include American English or British English, but some also include Canadian English.
Can my translation device automatically detect the languages being spoken?
A. No. You will have to select the language that you want the device to translate, but this ensures that you get the right language/dialect. Researching the languages spoken in your area is a great way to be prepared to switch languages whenever needed.
What’s the best language translator device to buy?
Top language translator device
What you need to know: With 55 languages, 75 accents, photo translation abilities and noise-canceling technology, this translator rises above the rest.
What you’ll love: It works with Wi-Fi, data or personal hotspots. You can also read menus and signs with photo translation, and the device is user-friendly.
What you should consider: Some users report that it struggles with certain languages and phrases.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top language translator device for the money
What you need to know: This budget-friendly model can translate 70 languages with smooth transitions and high-quality microphone technology.
What you’ll love: It has user-friendly side buttons and a touch screen.
What you should consider: It is somewhat inconsistent and bulkier than other models.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This moderately priced two-way translator supports 70 languages and effectively translates longer sentences at a time.
What you’ll love: It’s a standalone device with a user-friendly screen display, a lanyard for easy carrying and a one-year warranty.
What you should consider: It requires Wi-Fi, which can be tricky depending on your location and circumstances.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Collette Bliss writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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