What was once a technological concept only seen in speculative fiction is now available for us to use. We used to imagine a device that can translate and even speak any language for us, breaking communication barriers between two individuals talking in different languages. This is known today as a language translator device. You can take it anywhere and instantly communicate in any language you please. What does it look like and how does it work? Learn all about it below and see a list of the best instant translation devices available in the market today.
What Is a Language Translator Device?
Early Electronic Language Translators
Decades ago, there were already electronic language translators but they weren’t as sophisticated as the voice-activated ones. Still, they made communication a lot easier for people who needed to regularly speak with foreigners. They’ve been especially useful to students studying abroad and people who travel a lot to different countries.
These earlier translators looked a lot like mini-computers or electronic dictionaries which in a way, they were. They had QWERTY-type keyboards instead of a touchscreen and you often saw them being used in hotels or airports. These devices are like digital pocket-sized books and they paved the way for the many innovations that led to the voice-activated language translator devices we have today.
Modern Language Translator Devices
Electronic translators have evolved into an instant voice translator, a powerful handheld machine that’s almost always pocket-sized and instantly translates one language to another simply by “hearing” your words and interpreting them. With a quick data transfer process, the device will speak for you in the language it’s been set to translate.
Some models also allow you to type in your message and translate it all the same. It can be useful for business purposes where professionals in any field need to communicate with international clients or partners. Or you can use it for leisure when traveling to another country.
How Does It Work?
Is It AI-Powered?
These automatic translators would not be as efficient without Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology. It uses high-speed data transfer to either connect to a “cloud” or internal storage where a multitude of languages is stored. If you’re not familiar, a cloud is composed of servers that are located all over the world. On these servers, tech companies run software and databases that can be accessed by anyone who is authorized to do so. The AI used in these devices is quite fascinating. Computer scientists have developed a way to process language translation using statistical probability. What does that even mean? It means they designed computers to analyze words, phrases, and sentences to determine their probable meanings in the right context.
Instead of translating every word, which can be disastrous since words can have different meanings, it analyzes what they mean in the way they are used in a phrase or a sentence. It “learns” on its own by gathering and analyzing these inputs, and gets better and better the more it performs its functions.
Do I Need a WiFi Connection?
As mentioned above, language translator devices function in two ways. If it uses a cloud to access information, then yes, it would require an internet connection. Otherwise, it will rely on the data stored in the device. However, cloud-based translators are almost always better because they can easily “update” their information, producing more accurate results. To make this possible, an instant translator usually comes with a SIM card that works like the ones on your mobile phones. It will connect to the internet using this sim or it can be designed with WiFI capabilities which means you would have to connect it to a WiFi network for it to function.
Can It Translate Both Ways?
Two-way translation can be a little tricky even with this advanced technology but it is possible. Depending on how sophisticated your language translator device is, the process can be simple or it might require a few extra steps. Some speech translators can be set to translate one language to another and then vice versa—instantly. In other models, you would have to change the settings back and forth for each time you and your counterpart speaks. This is why it’s important to choose an instant voice translator that has the features that you need, and this guide will help you find what’s right for you.
Top 15 Language Translator Devices
Where can you buy a language translator device? This list has been ranked from our top pick, followed by our premium pick, and the best value for your money. But it’s good to look at all the items so you can decide for yourself which language translator device works best for your needs.
On the top of our list is the Birgus Instant Voice Translator. It features a new AI technology that allows it to do two-way translation with as quick as 0.1-second reaction speed. It can even detect accents of different people from different countries and regions. This language translator device requires an internet connection via a WiFi network. It also supports photo translation which means it can recognize letters or characters within a photo and translate it to whichever language you set.
The recording function lets you record any conversation which you can translate later on. It features text translation which lets you see what’s being said on the device’s screen. This model has 1200mah which is 8 hours of battery life when being used and 200 hours when on standby. You can charge it with a power bank using a USB cable.
This speech translator can translate up to 106 languages including Greek, Latin, Polish, and so on with 99% accuracy. It features a touchscreen with an easy-to-use interface.
The Langogo Genesis is not only a voice translator but also a transcriber. You can record conversations and the device will transcribe it for you. It is an online translator and you can connect it to the internet either via WiFi or its own mobile data using its built-in e-SIM card; meaning you don’t have to purchase a sim or subscribe to a separate mobile plan.
On top of that, it also functions as a mobile hotspot so you can even connect your smartphone to the internet through the device. This unit can perform a two-way translation with the touch of a button. Using world-leading translation engines, the Genesis can translate speech even when spoken in different accents. It supports up to 104 languages. Its self-learning algorithm allows it to constantly update its software and improve its performance. It is designed with a sleek touchscreen that shows you translated text instantly.
This model is in the higher price range but its sleek modern design and excellent features make it worth the price.
If you’re looking for a more affordable unit, the S&P Translator is an excellent choice. It can translate up to 138 languages and dialects and has a two-way translation feature. Despite its affordable price, it has high accuracy and features both online and offline translation. It can translate up to 14 languages when not connected to the internet including Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, among others.
This device requires a WiFi connection to connect to the internet and does not require a SIM card. It’s designed with a colored touchscreen that lets you see a real-time translation in text. It also has a photo translation feature. This language translator device also lets you record speech with a microphone that has a noise-canceling feature.
Quite different from the first three entries on the list, the WT2 Earbuds can translate languages while you are wearing them in your ears. This is great for those who don’t need to see text transcriptions but if you wish, you can also use the mobile app designed for this model. It supports up to 40 languages and can recognize 93 accents.
The translator earbuds feature two-way translation and because it’s completely hand-free, it gives you more freedom to move around while speaking with someone. You can activate it with a touch of a button and the other person doesn’t need to wear the same earphones for it to translate what they are saying. It features both online and offline translation.
This brand is one of the most popular among various types of translation devices. The Pocketalk Voice Interpreter features smart translation in real-time and supports 82 languages. It features two-way translation and its own data plan so you don’t have to connect it to a WiFi network. What’s great about this model is it can also understand slang and jargon. It is portable and can fit securely in your pocket.
The KANSING Instant Translator features an instant translation of up to 107 languages online and 12 languages offline. It also features voice to text translation. This model has a 98% accuracy and recognizes complicated words so you can communicate more effectively and meaningfully while traveling to a foreign country.
It boasts of a 0.5 second response time and can broadcast the translation in clear speech while also showing you the translated text on the screen. You can record up to 60 minutes of speech and even export the transcription to your computer. The built-in high-definition camera lets you translate texts in a photo to up to 45 languages.
This model features simultaneous two-way translation in multiple foreign languages. It supports 106 languages including Chinese, Khmer, Hebrew, etc. The DUTERI D has a sleek black design with a large touchscreen that shows you the translated speech in the text.
It also has a voice recording feature so you can record important meetings and translate them after. The device supports Bluetooth connectivity which allows you to wear the compatible earbuds (not included) so you can use them more seamlessly.
The unique feature of the Jarvisen Voice Translator is it includes a two-year global data plan so you don’t have to worry about connecting it to a WiFi network or mobile hotspot. It can translate both your voice and the other speaker’s in real-time. The device can interpret professional vocabulary and can understand and translate the terms used in healthcare, IT, finance, and others. It has a built-in microphone that can pick up the speech with a 4-mic Fairfield and can clearly understand words even in a noisy environment.
You don’t need to purchase a SIM card because it has a built-in e-Sim but you can also connect it to WiFi if you prefer. The high-resolution touchscreen displays the translated text. It has dual speakers so you don’t have to read the translation out loud; the device will speak for you.
With 99% accuracy, the Lincom integrates various leading AI translation engines into its system. It features two-way instant smart translation and supports languages of over 108 countries. While most translations require an internet connection, it can still translate offline up to 12 languages.
This model can understand and translate complicated sentences and can speak for you clearly through its surround stereo speakers. It is pocket-sized, lightweight, and is enclosed in a durable case. It has a large capacity battery and can last up to 3 days on standby.
This language translator device is slim and sleek. It can translate up to 73 languages both ways. The CheetahTALK uses 4 highly-sophisticated translation engines to provide you with precise translations and can interpret modern slang. It features an ultra-long battery life which allows you to use the device for an entire week on a single charge and can last 50 days on standby. This unit can translate both offline and online.
The Cheetah CM is powered by Microsoft AI cloud-based translation technology. It provides instant accurate translations in 42 languages and is completely voice-operated. You can talk and have your speech translated instantly. This language translator device also has a mobile app that you can use to see translations in the text since it does not have a screen.
Featuring a lightning speed of 0.1 translation processing time, the Webdell Assistant lets you participate in more meaningful conversations in foreign languages instantly. Its translation engine supports 106 languages including local dialects in some regions. The audio memo function lets you record interviews, meetings, and other conversations using a double mic with a noise reduction feature.
This mic can pick up sound from up to two meters and can transcribe the recorded speech into text on its screen. Its translator camera can translate texts from photos to up to 45 languages.
The Buoth Smart Translator offers two-way translation and supports up to 82 languages. It’s designed with a 2.4-inch touchscreen with a user-friendly interface. The screen can also display the translation in text. It is completely online which requires a WiFi connection. You can even record your speech and repeat the translation to your listener if they don’t understand it the first time.
This language translator device has built-in global data so you don’t need to insert a SIM card or connect to WiFi for it to function. It has wide data coverage in 85 countries. The JoneR can translate 55 languages and can understand over 75 accents all over the world.
It features two-way translation powered by world-leading AI technology and deep learning. The device has a built-in camera that allows you to take photos and translate any text within it. It can also function as a mobile hotspot.
Although it doesn’t have a screen, the Nynicorny is still a powerful voice translator, featuring an instant translation of up to 44 languages. It can translate both ways with 99% accuracy. If you want to see text translations, you can download its compatible mobile app and connect your device to your smartphone via Bluetooth.
It allows wireless transmission with a 10-meter range and a voice recognition of one meter. It is extremely light and portable and fits perfectly in your pocket.
Is a Voice Translator Device Better Than a Mobile App?
There are speech translator apps available both on the App Store and Play Store. They’re not at all bad and in fact, can have high accuracy. A mobile app can surely be handy, but pulling out your phone to use this feature is not as convenient as having a separate device solely for translation purposes. Using your phone will also eat up its battery which you could otherwise use for calling, texting, etc. Another disadvantage of using a mobile app instead of a standalone language translator device is the possibility of bugs. You must know how disruptive it can be when an app or worse, your phone hangs. It also eats up storage on your phone.
What Type of Languages Can It Translate?
Depending on the brand and model, a modern language translator device can translate anywhere between 40 to 100+ languages. Some units with photo translation capability can even translate other alphabets or foreign characters like Chinese, Greek, etc. Take note that most of the more advanced translations often require an internet connection so make sure to look for a unit that has WiFi or data connectivity features if you want to translate these types of languages.
What Else Can You Do With an Instant Voice Translator?
The portable translation devices available today are so versatile that you can even use them for other purposes. Here are some other great features that you can find in instant voice translators.
As you’ve seen in some of the models above, many instant translators allow you to record speech or conversations. Whether you are recording a conversation in a foreign language or not, this feature can come in very handy. The great thing about this functionality is it lets you play back recordings in foreign languages and review them which is perfect if you’re trying to learn a specific language.
Although usually limited in terms of supported languages, some language translator devices allow you to translate texts within a photo. These units typically have built-in cameras so you can capture photos with foreign texts and let the device translate them for you. This is especially helpful if you want to translate words or phrases written in special characters like Chinese and Japanese. You don’t even have to pronounce the words on the photos. The device will do it for you and you can instantly hear the proper pronunciation.
WiFi Hotspot Connectivity
Models that have built-in SIM cards or data connectivity allow you to connect your mobile phones or even your computer to the translator device’s hotspot. This comes in handy in case you lose a WiFi connection or you run out of data on your mobile phone.
Speech to Text
This is an extremely useful feature especially for those who are also trying to learn how to write in different languages. Naturally, this is only available to models that have a screen. In some cases, when the device does not have a screen, it has a compatible mobile app that you can download to your smartphone and use the speech to text feature there. It also comes in handy in case you are in a very noisy environment and instead of letting your listener listen through the speaker, you can simply show them the translated text!
Why Use a Voice Language Translator?
Photo from AmazonAs you’ve seen in the features and capabilities of the speech translators listed above, these small but incredible machines have a lot of benefits, and they can make your life so much easier if you ever want to learn a foreign language or communicate effectively with foreigners. Because of the advanced AI technology that powers these devices, the translation process has become almost instantaneous. You can simply talk in your native language near the device and it will speak the translation for you through its speakers. The same goes for the person you are speaking with and you no longer have to grapple for dictionaries or rely on hand gestures to understand what they are saying.
This technology breaks so much more than language barriers. It is a major breakthrough that enhances social interactions and even education massively. It prevents misunderstandings, gives ready access to information, all of which ultimately make the world a better place to live in.
How to Choose a Language Translator Device
Here are some things you should consider when choosing the right language translator device for you.
The most important thing to consider is, of course, the accuracy of the device’s translation. How can you gauge this? See if the device can translate not just words but the context in which words and phrases are used. Remember that it translates conversations almost instantaneously so you wouldn’t want your translator to be communicating the wrong messages for you.
Depending on your needs, make sure that the instant voice translator supports as many languages as possible and includes the ones you need most. Of course, the more languages it supports, the more expensive it can get. But if you won’t be needing translations of more complex languages, then you don’t have to invest in a very pricey model.
Image Capture Quality for Photo Translation
This feature can also come in quite handy especially if you need to translate languages written in special characters or a different alphabet. You don’t even have to understand what’s written on the photo or how to pronounce them. Simply take a photo of the written text and the device will translate it for you. That said, make sure that the camera can capture in high definition since not all texts are easily recognizable especially in low light conditions.
Touchscreen and User Interface
If the device is designed with a touchscreen, make sure that the interface is easy to use and understand. The point of using a language translator device is to make the whole process seamless and fast. With a poor user interface, you will find yourself searching for buttons, tabs, and will be scrolling endlessly. Check how responsive the screen is to touch and if the display is in high-definition and is easy to read.
It’s easy to overlook battery life as an important feature. It’s very risky to rely on a device that drains its battery too fast. You could be in the middle of a conversation and the device could run out of power. It’s also a good idea to check how long it lasts on standby because you may forget to charge your device in between travels or meetings.
Mic Range and Sound Quality
It would be very inconvenient for you if you have to speak too close to the device in order for it to pick up what you’re saying. So, make sure that the mic has good coverage. If possible, choose one that has a noise-canceling feature. This way, it doesn’t pick up other people’s voices especially if you’re in a crowded location. Since it would be translating your messages through speech, the speaker should also have good sound quality.
You should also consider how the device connects to the internet if it features online translation. It could either have a built-in electronic SIM card or WiFi capabilities or both. You need to decide which type of connectivity works best for you. One disadvantage of devices with built-in e-Sims is that they require a data subscription. If you are confident that you will almost always have ready WiFi available, then it’s better to choose one with this type of connectivity. If you do require one with its own data, it’s important to check how large the provider’s coverage area is in the countries you’ll be traveling to.
A language translator device can truly change the way we interact as a society. It’s a useful gadget not just for professionals but also for those who like to travel a lot for leisure. So, feel free to review our top picks above and get your instant voice translator today!