Best Language Translation Devices iMore 2021
Having a language translation device when you travel to a country where you're not fluent in the language will help you communicate with locals, ask for directions, and understand guides. Look for a translator that supports two-way communication to help you carry on a full conversation without waiting for individual phrases or sentences to be translated. However, an offline device is helpful in a pinch when you need directions or help. The best language translator is the WT2. This device uses earbuds and your cell phone to help you communicated with others in real-time and without using your hands.
- Best Overall: WT2 Language Translator
- Best Pocket Translator: Pocketalk Language Translator
- Best Offline Translator: ili Instant Offline Translator
- Best Versatile Translator: Lincom Language Translator Device
Best Overall: WT2 Language Translator
The WT2 Language Translator is worn in your ear rather than held as you use it. It translates in real-time so you can walk and talk at the same time. It comes with two wireless earpieces go you and the person you're communicating with to wear, making it convenient to carry on conversations during activities and without having to face each other. And you don't need to be connected to the internet to use these because it supports offline translation.
The WT2 recognizes 40 languages, including Arabic, Greek, and Cantonese. It also understands 93 different accents and has a translation accuracy of 95 percent. You can choose the touch and speak mode of this device. This mode lets you speak and have the translator repeat the translation out loud so more than one person can hear. It will also send a transcript of the translation to your smartphone.
For this language translator to work, you must connect it, via Bluetooth, to your cellphone. You don't have to hold your phone for the WT2 to work. This device is also expensive. But the convenience of conversing hands-free is well worth the investment.
- Real-time translation
- Hand-free communication
- Recognizes 40 languages and 93 accents
- Offline translation
- Must be connected to a smartphone
Best Pocket Translator: Pocketalk Language Translator
This two-way language translator recognized 74 languages from 133 different countries, including several dialects of Spanish, Chinese, and English. It even understands jargon, slang terms, and profanities making the Pocketalk very accurate. You decide if you'd like the device to speak or text the translation to you or the individual you are speaking with. You do need a data plan for this device to work. A two-year subscription is included when you first purchase it.
The translation device is compact and easily slips into your pocket without being bulky. It's powered with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that is included with the translator. Many users have reported that it doesn't hold a charge for very long and needs to be repowered often. But it does translate fast without a long pause or wait in between.
- Compact design
- Recognizes 74 languages including multiple dialects
- Translates slang and swear words
- Battery doesn't hold a charge for long
- Data plan subscription is required
Best Offline Translator: ili Instant Offline Translator
The ili Instant Offline Translator is a good device if you need a translation where internet service isn't readily available. The most popular travel phrases and words have been programmed directly into the device, and it quickly translates them into one of three languages - Spanish, Japanese, and Mandarin Chinese. However, it won't translate any of those languages back to English.
The volume of this device is set and cannot be adjusted. If you are in a quiet area, you should be able to hear the translation clearly. However, it may not be loud enough for more crowded and noisy venues. The device is tiny, so it easily fits into a pocket without much bulge or fits well into a purse or backpack.
- No Wi-Fi needed
- Translates to Mandarin Chinese
- 1-2 second reaction time
- Easy to transport
- Only has three languages
- Doesn't translate to English
- Volume isn't adjustable
Best Versatile Translator: Lincom Language Translator Device
The Lincom translation device also doubles as a hotspot in case you're in a bind and need an internet connection. It is also one of the most versatile translators. It recognizes 138 languages and will translate them in real-time. It also is a two-way translation so you can carry on a full conversation. If you're trying to read a sign or a text in another language, the Lincom will translate photos taken with its camera. And if you find yourself without internet, it will translate 14 languages offline, too.
This translator has a screen, so it will both show and say translations. This is much more convenient than those devices that send text translations to a cellphone. It doesn't need a SIM card or a mobile app to work, though it will automatically update when connected to Wi-Fi. The only real drawback is that this language translation device isn't hands-free.
- Show and tell translations
- Translates photos
- Offline translation of 14 languages
- Can be used as a hotpot
- Not a hands-free device
Purchasing a language translation device is a pricy investment, so you want to make sure you get one that is quick, accurate, lightweight, and easy to use in all situations, especially two-way conversations. The WT2 language translator is our favorite because you don't need to hold anything to carry on a conversation. It comes with two wireless earbuds, so the person you're speaking to can hear their translation at the same time you listen to yours.
This translator recognizes 40 different languages and 93 accents with 95 percent accuracy. The WT2 translator has a learning mode to help you learn a language a little better. You do need to connect this translator to your smartphone with the required app installed. However, you don't need to hold your phone for the translator to work, and it will continue working if you walk 20 feet away from your phone.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Nicole Johnston writes for multiple Future Publishing brands, including iMore. She has a keen eye for pinpointing good solutions that comes from over 13 years of research and writing experience in both the public and private sector, including seven years testing and reviewing consumer products.
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