So you're getting ready to travel, wanting to learn a language, or just need to communicate in another language and need a bit of help. An electronic translator or electronic dictionary is a great device to assist you. Purpose built devices are usually much more accurate and feature-rich which is very important. The problem is there are so many out there, how do you know which one is right for you?
Step 1 - Budget:
Before the purchase
How much are you willing to spend? Electronic Translators and dictionaries range anywhere from $20 all the way to $1,000.
Step 2 - Language(s)
: Which language do you need? If you do not really need a multilingual device do not get it. On average Multilingual devices are more expensive.
Step 3 - Your Goal:
What are you trying to get out of it? Are you trying to translate a word? Learn a language? Do you need real voice translation? Text translation? Look below for an awesome "who are you and what you should get" list.
Step 4 - Know your vocabulary:
At the bottom we listed a ton of "Terms you will see". Take a second to look them over. These terms will pop up.
During the search
Who are you? What should you get:
The inexperienced traveler:
Step 5 - Do not assume: Something might look like it can translate your voice, but it may not. If it says "voice translator" or "translates anything you say" then it can. Things like "speech recognition" or "voice recognition" do NOT always mean they translate voice.
Step 6 - Look for the important things: Ask yourself these things. Will it do what i want? Whats the screen size? Is it touch screen? Battery type and duration? Can it translate both ways? Keyboard in both languages? Is there a warranty? Return policy? Technical support?
Step 7 - Try to ignore extras: Some more expensive devices for voice translation and professional learning programs will have many features and programs. They usually carry features of all lesser models like word translation, language games, mp3 players and more. If you don't need these features just ignore them, just because they are there does not mean you need to use them.
After the purchase
Step 8 - Relax and do not get discouraged: Most people have never seen, let alone used an electronic translator or electronic dictionary. It is going to take some time to get used to, do not be afraid of it. Take some free time and just play around with the device. If you need help contact technical support.
You are traveling & need a device for communication. You do not speak the language at all. You will most likely needs to spend the most on a device, but think about it, hiring a person to translate for you would cost MUCH more. You could get something with text translation (typing translation) for near $250. And something with voice translation for $350 - $400.
The Inexperienced language learner
: The story is the same for you. Look for something that says "language learning programs" or "language teacher" programs. The best programs are "voice interactive". They can hear your voice and rate your pronunciation.
You know some of the language and need some extra help. For communication, you can get something with "voice activated phrases". They are pre loaded but useful. And for the language learner you can get away with some "language games" and "language tools" to give you a bit of a boost.
The advanced linguist:
You know the language but need a reference tool. You can go with something for under $150. You can type a word and see the translation fast. For $150 you can get something with a ton of words sometimes 150,000 - 1,000,000 words. If you get anything under $60 you may be getting an extremely small amount of words in your dictionary. Sometimes as low as 10,000 words.
Terms you will see:
Will have definitions. May have single word translations.
Will Translate to another language. Can refer to word, phrase or spoken translations. This is a general term.
Takes your voice and will translate it. Make sure the device descriptions says it will "Translate anything you say".
Free Speech Translator
: By Definition, it can translate anything you say.
Speech To Speech:
Usually refers to voice activated audio phrases. Your speech activates a phrase which is spoken automatically in another language.
You type a sentence and it translates. You can usually type anything you want.
Pre-loaded phrases which are spoken. Good for travelers.
means text to speech. Usually a computerized voice output.
Human voice output:
You can hear words or phrases in a spoken human voice. better then TTS.
Can translate in two directions.
Usually less words bus associates words and pictures.