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Shopping for Electronic Translators

In the Star Wars movies, C3P0 is a protocol droid who can speak hundreds of languages and acts as a translator for his various masters. When the first Star Wars movie came out in 1977, the thought of a machine that could do this kind of work seemed absolutely outlandish. Now, just thirty five years later, devices that can do that kind of work are readily available from almost any electronics store at extremely affordable prices.

The challenge for consumers is finding an electronic translator that has all the features they’re looking for; is affordable; and will actually work well over the long haul. This seems like a job for the Internet, but many electronic translator review postings on sites like Amazon.com are anything but objective. In fact, many of them are actually written by freelancers who may have never have even seen the items they’re writing about.

To combat these paid reviews, we recommend that anyone looking for a device like this online pay special attention to how extreme the reviewer seems. If a reviewer is gushing, or complaining, excessively about a product like the Franklin Speaking Global EST-7014, they’re probably getting paid for it.

A better way of evaluating an electronic translator like the ECTACO 500AL Multilingual is to compare it head to head with several other, similar devices. We strongly recommend heading over to a store like Best Buy or Office Max that carries a whole line of these products and doing a quick test. All you have to do is pick out a word or phrase and type it into each device. This gives you a good baseline from which to work. If one device’s interface is more challenging to use than the other ones, or it just feels better in your hand, are things you’ll definitely want to know about.

We’d also caution consumers away from translators that are too expensive or have too many doodads and special features. While these types of things are very nice, very few of us will ever use. More often than not, they’re just added on to jack up the price and rarely provide value. After all, if you’re in a travel situation where you need answers fast, you’ll want a device that’s simple and stripped down.

Of course, if you’re in academia, your needs for an electronic translator are going to be very different. You might not feel the need carry something basic and stripped down. In fact, you may even appreciate all those gimmicks as a distraction during the long, lonely hours you’ll be spending in the library.

One translator device we’re very fond of these days is the Lingo Voyager 6. This device retails for around $150 and translate over 850,000 words into English, German, French, Italian, Greek, Dutch, Korean, Chinese, Arabic, Portuguese, Hebrew, Japanese, Spanish, and Russian. The Lingo also fits easily into a purse, pocket or backpack and is built to take a few hits. This makes language learning a lot easier.

It’s hard to believe that such a powerful tool can be had for such a low price, but it’s true. Thanks for low manufacturing costs; almost anyone can own a powerful, on call translator that shrinks the world down considerably. With a device like this in your pocket, you’ll feel like you’ve got your own robot servant.

It’s a brave new world of electronics out there, but that doesn’t mean that they’re all good or well made. We recommend that consumers really take their time when buying items like this because you really don’t want to find out that they don’t work after you’ve already left home.

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Last Updated on: Jan. 12, 2015
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