No matter how you slice it, having a language translator device is more than useful on a long trip. It can help us communicate with the locals in case we don’t speak their language.
However, there are many types of translators out there. Some of them connect to the Internet — others do not. So, which option should you choose?
What is a Language Translator Device?
If you were to type ‘handheld translator’ or ‘pocket translator’ in a search engine, you’d probably get a lot of curiously similar results. To be precise, you’d get a lot of links with gadgets that look like MP3 players or dictaphones.
Some of them will be two-way devices — others will work one way only. But most of them will have a similar mechanism. In other words, you push a button, speak into the gadget, and then wait for it to translate what you said. It’s a handy little tool, that’s for sure.
So, Is It a Translator App?
In a word, no, it isn’t. Translator apps are just that — apps. We install them on our smart device and use them when we’re out. And there are quite a few of these apps out there.
However, apps aren’t that much better than translation gadgets. In fact, they have quite a few flaws when we compare the two. They take a while to set up and use. Moreover, they’re clumsy and usually have odd interfaces.
But most importantly, they drain the battery quickly. We usually use our smart devices for many things. For example, a good tablet can function as a camera, a GPS, a digital book reader, and a personal computer. The same can be said about smartphones. But most smart devices don’t have a powerful battery, to begin with. More importantly, the battery will go down quickly if we use multiple apps at once, which most people already do regularly.
All of that tells us that translator apps aren’t the way to go. If our phone is dead, we’re left without an important tool in case we get lost.
A translator device, in contrast, doesn’t have these problems. It’s versatile, easy to use and has a long battery life. Plus, it’s small enough that we can carry it in our shirt pocket.
Different Types of Devices
Now that we’ve established that devices trump apps, we should discuss different types of translators. Some of them, like Muama Enence, are two-way translators that work both offline and online. Others work one way and only have an offline option, like ili.
Then there’s the question of how many languages a device can handle, how long its battery life is, etc. But we won’t be focusing on that too much right now. What we need to do is answer one question: online or offline?
There isn’t that much to explain when the name of a device is ‘online translator.’ In short, it’s a device that uses the Internet to help with the translation.
Of course, there is more to it than just that. First, let’s explain what type of Internet these devices use.
Some of these gadgets have a display screen, and on top of that screen, we can see the familiar curvy bars and the circle underneath them. To put it more bluntly, it’s the symbol of Wi-Fi.
These devices connect to the nearest Wi-Fi network, so they’re great for places like cafés, bars, and shopping malls. But then again, they will work at any public place that has free Wi-Fi. One extra feature of these translators is that they can act as hotspots themselves, at least with some models.
But then there’s the problem of not having any Wi-Fi around. Luckily, a few manufacturers of these gadgets took that into consideration. For that reason, we can find a few devices that use Internet SIM cards. If you have a smartphone, we don’t have to explain how SIM card Internet works.
Before we delve deeper into offline translators, we should note one thing. Most of the ‘offline’ translators on the market today actually have an online function. Or, at the very least, they are able to connect to a smart device and use the Internet that way.
Of course, these gadgets are still called offline translators. Their primary job is to work without using the Internet. In other words, they already have everything they need inside their memory. The added Internet connection is there either to give us crisper translations or to update the software.
These translators usually (but not always!) have a huge number of languages pre-installed. A few modern models can have as many as 80 languages! Anyone who’s into traveling will love the sheer number of different options.
Benefits and Flaws of Both Translators
Let’s start with online devices. It’s always a good idea to have a gadget that can be enhanced using the World Wide Web. Not only will that give us a smoother translation than the basic language option we have, but it will do it in no time flat. In addition, the device will perform regular updates even when it’s in our pocket and connected to the local Wi-Fi in a restaurant or a museum.
Of course, some online devices are useless if we’re in an area with no Wi-Fi or if our SIM card runs out. Without the Internet, an online device is just a small chunk of plastic.
Offline devices have one major disadvantage when we compare them to their online counterparts. Unsurprisingly, it’s the Internet connection. A lot of older models out there only have the basic languages installed, with everyday words and phrases. In other words, we cannot update them with modern vocabulary.
However, one major advantage they do have over online devices is that they usually don’t need the Internet, to begin with. That, of course, refers to the new models that contain detailed, updated language packs. We should also note that, on average, offline translators cost less than online ones.
Which Should I Choose?
Honestly, either one would be fine, depending on where you visit while you’re traveling. If you like clubbing, hanging out at bars, or visiting historical monuments, an online translator will be great for you. Almost every public area open to tourists has some form of Wi-Fi that the translator can use.
However, if you’re a bit more ‘off-road’ than other tourists, you’ll need an offline translator. After all, if you want to hike to the jungle or roam around the beach near a hill, it’s likely that there won’t be any Wi-Fi there. In addition, some countries don’t support the Internet SIM cards that modern online translators use.
In our opinion, an offline translator is a bit better than an online one, though not by much. You might not get fluent translations all the time, but at least you won’t be left high and dry if you get lost in a foreign country.