GUIDE – Practical and efficient, the small instant translation boxes facilitate communication during stays abroad, for less than 250 euros.
Asking for directions, reserving a hotel room, ordering from a restaurant: it is not always easy, when traveling abroad, to communicate with the local population when you do not know the language. In some cases, English can be used as an intermediary. But there remains a quantity of villages and campaigns which ignore as much the language of Shakespeare as that of Voltaire. This is where electronic translators come to the rescue.
The size of a small remote control, of exemplary simplicity, they automatically convert what is said in another language, respecting the intonation and the accent of the country. Some can even translate printed texts using their integrated camera.
In a few years, pocket translators have made enormous progress. Largely due to cloud processing capabilities. As with voice assistants, voice recording takes off online to be analyzed and interpreted, and its translation comes back almost instantly.
This highlights a drawback that should not be overlooked: without access to a Wi-Fi hotspot or a mobile network (some models have a SIM card slot), the friendly assistant remains silent. This will have to be taken into account in countries where the communications infrastructure is miserable, capricious or accessible only at high prices. However, we are starting to see models arriving that have translation schemes in memory, thus operating without an internet connection.
Among the voice translators working without internet connection, we tested the FreeSay Voice Translator GTA11 Pro (249 euros). Equipped with Android, it also has two buttons, one to dictate a sentence, the other to translate the answer. It has translation diagrams for five languages in memory (English, Japanese, French, Spanish, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese) and eight others can be downloaded (German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Russian, Korean, Hindi, Indonesian). The advantage is appreciable: before leaving on a trip, or in the hotel, we load the modules corresponding to the language of the country visited and the translation will be done without the need to connect. The device performs its function correctly. The results are fairly faithful or, here too, clear enough to understand the meaning of the interlocutor’s words.
These products are selling well, if you believe the research firm Research and Markets, which estimates that the world market of electronic translators should register an annual growth rate of 3.19% between 2018 and 2022. An increase which is explained not only by the boom in travel abroad, but also by the success of online training and distance education, which allows a international audience to take advantage of courses in different languages. Tourism remains the main use of this type of device, however, accounting for 61% of sales growth.
One can wonder about the interest of the pocket translator at a time when a quantity of applications for smartphone fulfills the same function. In addition to its reduced size and its more enduring battery, the small device allows precisely to avoid taking out the phone, either because there are fears for its security, or that we prefer to save it for another use. In addition, the translator no longer offers spontaneous use and is less intimidating for the interlocutor.