At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.
If you’re trying to choose an electronic interpreter, it is important to know exactly what features are available in the most recent models and decide which features are most important to you. The very best interpreters have the ability to translate multiple languages with a huge dictionaries and massive catalogs of useful phrases. There are also many models that offer voice recognition, at least to some limited extent, and the better models can actually speak words aloud, either to teach you proper pronunciation or as a way of communicating with people during your travels. Issues like battery life, portability, and ease of use may also be very important, along with durability, especially if you’re going to be doing a lot of physical or outdoors activity on your trip that might damage a fragile electronic device.
An electronic interpreter — also known as an electronic translator — is a device used as a technological replacement for the translation dictionaries that people often buy when traveling. These devices have a wide range of possible features and come in many different price ranges. Some people use them as a tool to directly communicate with people, while others use them more like a traditional translation dictionary, as a way to help in mastering phrases and pronunciation for later use in social situations.
If you’re looking for the best electronic interpreter, you’re going to want a device that has multiple language support. Some interpreters come with numerous built-in languages, while others allow for additional dictionaries to be installed through a memory card feature. Depending on your needs, you might not be especially concerned about this issue, but it can represent a significant value if you look at it from a long-term perspective. An electronic interpreter with multiple language support could potentially be useful in almost any location, which means you probably won’t have to buy another translator if you take a trip to a different area at some point in the future.
Another major feature to look for in an electronic interpreter is voice support. Many models are able to say words aloud, so you can simply pick the phrase you want to say to someone, and then let the device pronounce it for the listener. Since pronunciation issues are often one of the toughest things about trying to communicate in a language you don’t know, this can be very useful, and could potentially make it much easier for you to accomplish tasks while traveling the world. Other models also offer voice recognition. Since perfect direct translation from voice to voice isn’t yet possible with modern computer devices, this usually takes the form of allowing the user to say something and then pick a phrase from a list of potential matches.
Phrases are usually the most important thing about these devices, since simply knowing words isn’t always enough to make yourself clear to people when you don’t understand a language fully. The lower-end electronic interpreters generally offer around 5,000 to 7,000 phrases, while the higher-end models often offer more than twice that many. At the lower-end of the spectrum, the phrases will usually only allow you to communicate very common basic things, which might be more than enough for most travelers, but higher-end models are much more flexible. Some of them will even let you alter the inflection of the phrase to communicate an emotional context if it is necessary.