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Pocketalk translator hands-on: 74 languages at the touch of a button

Hands on with the Pocketalk translator 74 languages at the touch of a buttonzdnet
  • Editors' rating
    9.2 Spectacular

Pros

  • Fast translation in 74 languages
  • Pocket sized
  • Noise cancellation in noisy areas

Cons

  • Lanyard not supplied as standard

I like the idea of having an instantaneous translator in my pocket for when I need to quickly translate something while I am out of the country, and the Pocketalk translator looks like it will fulfill my needs.

I reviewed the WT2 translator in June this year and found it to be really useful for having voice conversations with people in a different language. Now, the Pocketalk will also help me be understood when I travel and cannot speak the language.

The Pocketalk translator has a streamlined look and feel. It has a power button on one side and two buttons on the front of the device. On the other side of the device, there is a SIM slot for a data card -- very useful indeed if you do not have access to a Wi-Fi connection or hotspot.

Its dimensions are 5.9 x 3.7 x 1.8 inches, and it weighs 8 ounces. There is a range of covers for the device and an optional lanyard so you can wear the device. It is a shame this is not in the box as standard.

Click each button in turn and select the language to translate from and to, connect to Wi-Fi, Bluetooth device, or mobile hotspot, and that's it. To translate, hold the button for your chosen outbound language until you hear a beep, speak the phrase, and it is quickly translated into the destination language.

History shows you all of the phrases translated, which can be cleared in the settings screen.

Top ZDNET Reviews

Pocketalk can translate 74 different languages quickly. Once the device understands the outgoing sentence and displays the text, it is quickly translated on-screen with an audible voice prompt for the destination language.

Translations might not work correctly if you connect the Pocketalk over Wi-Fi in China due to strict regional regulations. If you are in China, then select China in the region of use setting on the device. In this case, the list of available languages will be limited.

I found that the device worked in fairly noisy environments outside -- even when I was on a noisy street. Its dual noise-canceling microphones picked up almost every word I said and translated it efficiently. 

Text on screen also helped me to understand the translation. My attempts to read notices in Italian and translate them to English also worked reasonably well, which I found really useful when translating menus.

Time to translate was almost instantaneous -- and accuracy was really good for the five languages I tested.

I charged the device up each morning, and the batteries lasted all day. The device has up to seven hours of battery life if used intermittently, and five hours use if in constant use. The device sleeps after 15 seconds of inactivity, which is configurable up to 10 minutes, or disabled completely

For under $300,  the Pocketalk will give you the confidence you need when traveling, and you do not speak the language. The device comes with a two-year data plan on Amazon, so you do not even need any Wi-Fi to use it. Small enough for your pocket, you do not ever need to worry about asking for directions again.