When traveling, it can be hard to learn local languages and accurately communicate with people. How do you say "thank you"? How do you order a coffee or a sandwich? If you're headed to a foreign country, you may need a little help grasping the language. And cutting-edge technology is making it easier than ever. Sure paper dictionaries and bulky language books may be a thing of the past, but keep reading to find the five best digital language translators currently on the market.
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For an alternative to carrying several dictionaries in various languages, the Brookstone Passport is an excellent choice and provides more than 8,000 useful phrases. The device cross translates 12 international languages: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Turkish, Dutch, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese and Swedish. Measuring 5.4 x 4.8 x 4 inches, the portable translator has eight conversational categories to choose from and it “speaks” aloud and displays the phrase on the screen. Another handy feature is that it allows you to save up to 50 favorite phrases. It also comes with a built-in personal phone book to help stay organized and an auto-shut off button with password access.
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The palm-sized ECTACO Partner 900 is ideal for those interested in learning Spanish. It instantly converts voice text by repeating it aloud or speaking it in Spanish or English, and also has a roster of other features to help you learn the language. Take a photo of text (such as a restaurant menu) and it instantly converts it to English (an Internet connection is required for this part of the program). There’s also a talking picture dictionary and phrasebook, as well as a full language-learning program with linguistic crosswords and pronunciation assistance. The translator measures 6 x 3.5 x 0.7 inches and weighs 9.8 ounces.
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IflyTek has been developing its Auto Speech Recognition technology that allows a device to convert speech instantly, and the Salange Electronic Translator is pocket-sized and allows users to translate Chinese to English and English to Chinese. The device is designed to block out background noise, so users can speak clearly into the microphone. After recording, the phrase is translated into the opposite language and “spoken” by the device. Salange is perfect for those who need practice with the “audio” part of a language (it doesn’t translate written word) or for communicating when traveling. The translator measures 3.2 x 1.6 x 1 inches and has a micro SD charging cord.
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For a translator that will get you through the basics of several European languages without putting a giant hole in your pocket, the Franklin TWE-118 is a great choice. The handheld device translates to and from English, French, Spanish, German and Italian with more than 210,000 translations available. The device measures 4.25 x 2.75 x .62 and resembles a calculator, with a letter keyboard to type in words and phrases. There’s a search function that categorizes phrases into useful groups such as dining, hotels, directions, business and more. There’s also a built-in currency converter, spell checker, databank for names and phone numbers and calculator, plus a world clock and games.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
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If you are looking for a device to translate websites, books and other documents, the Quicktionary Wizcom is an excellent option. The digital pen can scan text documents and display them on the screen in English, Hebrew, Russian, Arabic or French. Designed with Israeli tourists in mind, the pen also has a built-in dictionary of Hebrew words and local phrases. The pen recognizes a wide variety of font sizes, types and colors, and also has a keyboard, so users can type specific words for an instant translation with more than 300,000 words loaded into the device. The pen does not require Wi-Fi to use.
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