Best Language Translation Devices iMore 2019

Handheld language translation devices are designed specifically for traveling with the best ones supporting two-way voice translation. This means the device translates multiple people talking, in different languages, all at once so you can have a full conversation without waiting for individual words or simple sentences to be translated. We highly recommend the Birgus Two Way Language Translator because of its 98 percent translation accuracy, 70 language database, LED touch screen, noise reduction microphone, and overall convenience.

Best Overall: Birgus Two Way Language Translator

The Birgus Two Way Language Translator picks up both sides of your conversation and quickly translates multiple languages without a large delay. It is 98 percent accurate when translating 70 different languages, and it will not only speak the translation to you but also display it on the HD touch screen. This allows you to see, save, and remember key phrases and words. Because of this screen, this Birgus language translation device doesn't require you to download an app, but it does need a Wi-Fi connection. It doesn't work with hotel and other public internet services that require a secondary website authorization. However, it will connect to internet hot spots.

This translator includes a volume control button with the highest setting loud enough to clearly hear in a crowd. With a noise-reduction microphone, the Birgus cancels out a lot of background noise so it focuses just on those talking in your conversation. The battery life is pretty decent, too. When fully charged it has enough power to translated for eight hours of continuous use, or last seven days on standby before needing to be recharged.

Pros:

  • Two-way voice translator
  • 98 percent accurate
  • 70 languages
  • Displays translated text
  • No app needed

Cons:

  • Requires Wi-Fi connection
  • Won't work with secondary internet authorization
  • Doesn't include neck or wrist straps
  • Not waterproof

Best Overall

Birgus Two Way Language Translator

Best Overall

This translation device picks up both sides of the conversation and quickly converts multiple languages at once. On top of repeating the phrases in the language of your choice, it also transcribes and displays them on the HD touchscreen. It is programmed to recognize and translate 70 languages with a 98 percent translation rate.

Pocket Translator: ODDO AI Language Translation

The ODDO AI pocket translator connects to language translating app like Googe Translate, Baidu, and Iflytek to help translate 42 different languages. It uses an AI system to learn keywords and phrases, plus learn dialects and accents. This helps the ODDO translation device earn a 95 percent translation accuracy rating. Because it is a two-way voice translator, it translates two people speaking different languages at the same time.

All translations are both spoken out loud and displayed in text form on the ODDO's touchscreen. This means you don't need to download a phone app in order to use this device, but you do need an internet connection for it to work. The ODDO is compatible with standard Wi-Fi and hot spot connections, but won't work with a 4G network alone. When you're done using it, the ODDO AI translator is small enough to slip into your pocket or purse until it's needed again.

Pros:

  • AI technology learns dialects
  • Connects to translating apps
  • See and hear translations
  • Pocket size

Cons:

  • Takes time to learn translations
  • Wi-Fi connection required
  • 4G networks not supported

Pocket Translator

ODDO AI Language Translation

Pocket Translator

Using AI technology, this pocket language translator connects to popular translation websites and apps, including Google Translate, Iflytek, and Nuance to learn common phrases, dialects, and accents. The more you use it the more accurately it begins to translate.

Budget Pick: Pulomi TT Easy Trans

The Pulomi TT Easy Trans is a reliable device for quickly translating simple words and phrases into your, or another's native language. This budget-friendly device is designed for single-voice use, which means it translates one speaker at a time. It requires a mobile app to be downloaded to your cellphone so that it can send text messages of all translations in addition to audibly speaking to you. It connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth and will double as a Bluetooth, wireless speaker. This translator recognizes 52 different languages.

While the TT Easy Trans comes with a user manual, most people find it difficult to understand. There is no live customer support available. Because of this, it may take a while to figure out how to set up and use the translator for the first time. We did find some hints shared by other users and YouTube tutorials that are helpful.

Pros:

  • Good value
  • Recognizes 52 languages
  • Doubles as a wireless speaker
  • Connects to phones via Bluetooth
  • Includes a neck strap

Cons:

  • Requires app for written translations
  • Single voice translation
  • Instruction manual difficult to understand

Budget Pick

Pulomi TT Easy Trans

Budget Pick

This budget-friendly language translator speaks the translation to you then sends a text to your phone with the written translation for you to see and read. It recognizes 52 different languages and includes a neck strap so you can wear the device.

Offline Translator: ili Instant Offline Translator

The ili Instant Offline Translator is a good device if you need a translation where internet service isn't readily available. The most popular travel phrases and words have been programmed directly into the device and it quickly translates them into one of three languages - Spanish, Japanese and Mandarin Chinese. However, it won't translate any of those languages back to English.

The volume of this device is set and cannot be adjusted. If you are in a quiet area, you should be able to hear the translation clearly. However, it may not be loud enough for more crowded and noisy venues. The device is really small, so it easily fits into a pocket without much bulge or fits well into a purse or backpack.

Pros:

  • No Wi-Fi needed
  • Translates to Mandarin Chinese
  • 1-2 second reaction time
  • Easy to transport

Cons:

  • Only has three languages
  • Doesn't translate to English
  • Volume isn't adjustable

Offline Translator

ili Instant Offline Translator

Offline Translator

This travel language translation device doesn't need Wi-Fi to work. Instead, several words and phrases that are commonly used while traveling and communicating have been programmed into the device. It is a one-voice translator and only translates from English to one of three languages - Mandarin Chinese, Japanese and Spanish.

Bluetooth Translator: WT2 Language Translator

The WT2 Language Translator is worn in your ear rather than handheld and translates in real-time so you can walk and talk at the same time. It comes with two wireless earpieces for you and the person you're communicating with to wear and recognizes 36 languages, including Arabic, Greek, and Cantonese. It also understands 84 different accents and has a translation accuracy rate of 95 percent. You can choose the touch and speak mode of this device. This mode lets you speak and have the translator repeat the translation out loud so more than one person can hear. It will also send a transcript of the translation to your smartphone.

In order for this language translator to work, you must connect it, via Bluetooth, to your cellphone. You don't have to physically hold your phone, however, for the WT2 to work. This device is also the most expensive translator we found, almost double the cost of other two-way voice translation devices. It does come with a one-year warranty, just in case it experiences any issues.

Pros:

  • Real-time translation
  • Handsfree device
  • Recognizes 36 languages and 84 accents
  • Includes one-year warranty

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Must be connected to a smartphone
  • Earpieces should be cleaned before sharing

Bluetooth Translator

WT2 Language Translator

Bluetooth Translator

This translator comes with two Bluetooth, wireless earpieces that translate languages in real-time and without the need to hold anything. It recognizes 36 different languages in 84 unique accents and comes with a 12-month warranty.

Bottom line

Purchasing a language translation device is a pricy investment, so you want to make sure you get one that is quick, accurate, lightweight and easy to use in all situations, especially two-way conversations. The Birgus Two Way Language Translator is our favorite device because it instantly translates conversations spoken in several languages with 98 percent accuracy. It both audibly tells you each translation and displays it on the included HD touch screen. The volume can be adjusted and it's small enough to easily carry around or slip into your pocket when not being used. It does require a Wi-Fi connection to use.

For a quick, offline option, the ili Offline Instant Translator is a popular choice. It has several common words and phrases used when traveling programmed into the device itself so it can translate for you without the need for internet. However, it only translates into three languages and English isn't one of them. It's also a little quiet for crowded areas and doesn't include any volume control.

We did consider Google Pixel Buds since Google claims they can translate 40 different languages when connected to the Google Translate app on Google and Android phones. However, they have been experiencing some issues with real-time translation working consistently and only 27 languages are actually listed within the Translate app. We do hope in the future that the bugs will be worked out so we can more enthusiastically recommend them for language translation.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Nicole Johnston is a staff writer for iMore. She has a keen eye for pinpointing good solutions that comes from over 12 years of research and writing experience in both the public and private sector, including six years testing and reviewing consumer products.

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