With the year 2019 coming to an end, let us take a look at the devices that help us understand and be understood in the world of languages. When it comes to choosing the best translator device, what should we consider first? At the moment, there are five main brands that offer their own devices for translating. Each of them have distinctive features so let us compare the differences and similarities among the most popular handheld translators for travel or business on the market.
Choosing the Best Translator Device in 2019
Travis Touch Plus is a second-generation pocket translator designed for face-to-face conversations between travelers, business partners, family members or strangers. 105 languages are available for online translating and 7 languages are supported without an Internet connection (limited translations; basic words, and phrases). Travis, with the help of AI technology, uses 14 different translation engines, including Google Translate, to provide the most accurate translations for each language. Its dual noise-canceling microphones and high-quality speakers allow translating outdoors, on the move or in noisy environments. Travis can be used straight for 12 hours without charging and the same amount converts to approximately a week with occasional translations while traveling. Travis Touch Plus is a standalone translator and doesn’t require a phone or extra app in order to translate.
Price: $249 (without built-in data) or $299
A compact pocket-translator with 74 languages at hand. Pocketalk is able to translate long sentences, therefore it is suitable for traveling, face-to-face conversations. Due to the dual noise-canceling microphones and speakers, outdoor translations are possible even in a loud environment. The translating history stores up to 10,000 past translations and they are accessible in the timeline. There are two options to purchase the device: with the built-in mobile data or without. Pocketalk supports online translations only, meaning that the device has to be connected to the Internet. With the built-in mobile data, the translator arrives together with a global SIM card installed which is valid for two years after initial activation. Afterward, it costs $50 a year to extend your mobile data coverage.
As the opposite of Pocketalk, ili is an offline translation device. It supports three languages: Japanese, Mandarin, and Spanish. A beta version of the Korean language has been recently added. The most distinctive feature of ili is that it offers only one-way translations. For instance, if I choose to translate to Mandarin, then I have to speak in English (default input language) and the translation will be configured to English-Mandarin, giving me an output of what I have said in Mandarin. Not the other way around. It proves to be a quick method of translating, with a focus on Asian languages. The device is comfortable to hold in hand because of its oblong shape and well-positioned translation button. Because translations are done without internet connection and the device itself does not have major energy usage, the battery is measured to stay for three days.
While Pocketalk and ili specialize on face-to-face translations, WT2 Plus are translator earbuds that offer ear-to-ear translation. Two wireless headphones come in the charging case to be shared between two speakers. The earbuds are connected to the Internet via a mobile app and require a phone to be present at all times. WT2 Plus claims to have three translation modes available – Simul Mode, Touch Mode and Speak Mode. Each mode is designed to optimize the ways of translating on different occasions or environments. WT2 Plus supports 36 languages together with 13 English accents, 15 Arabic accents, and 18 Spanish accents. Earbuds can operate for 5 hours without charging and the fully-charged case provides up to two full earbuds’ charges. You will need a phone and an app for these earbuds to work. Approaching strangers on the street and asking them to pop in an earbud might give for some very awkward reactions.
The Muama Enence translator is the cheapest translator in this list and this translates to a whole lot less features and a less than stellar user experience and reviews. Most importantly, the Muama Enence translator requires an additional app and phone in order to translate, meaning your phone will need to stay connected with bluetooth and your phone screen will need to stay on during the entire time. The device itself functions as a glorified microphone, all the translations and processing are done by your phone and the app. This allows the device to have a longer battery life, but you will find yourself fumbling with a phone, an app and the translator device, all while trying to have a conversation with someone.
Travis Touch Plus
- 105 languages supported, which makes it the most complete real time translator on the market
- Two-way translation
- Dual microphones with noise-cancellation
- Works online (with Wi-Fi or SIM card) and offline
- Hotspot functionality to share your internet connection with up to 11 devices
- Voice commands to easily change languages
- Long-lasting battery with up to a week of conventional usage
- Supports wireless charging
- You can learn languages with the add-on Travis Teacher
- No mobile data pre-installed
- Only available in 2 colors (White/Black)
- 74 languages supported, which makes it the 2nd most complete translator in this list
- Two-way translation
- Dual-noise canceling microphones
- Translating history stores up to 10,000 past translations
- Built-in data if you purchase the $299 option
- Available in 3 colors
- Does not provide offline translations, it requires you to be connected to internet at all times
- Price can be up to $100 more than Travis Touch Plus with less languages supported
- Need to pay $50 a year to extend your mobile data coverage once you’ve reached the initial limit
- Only ships to US and Japan
- Small size
- Works entirely offline
- Battery lasts longer than other devices
- Only one-way translation, so don’t expect to understand any answer you might get from your foreign interlocutor
- Only 4 languages supported
- No screen to display your translation
- $199 is a high price for one-way translation only
- Ear-to-ear translation can be convenient when talking with the same person for a long time
- 3 translation modes available
- Supports up to 84 accents (more than any device in this list)
- Sharing an earbud with a total stranger
- Only 36 languages supported
- Only 5 hours of operation time
- Does not work offline, as it needs an app on your phone, and your phone to be connected via Bluetooth at all times
- Small size
- Cheaper pricing
- Muama Enence does not work offline
- How to use Muama Enence? You need to install an app on your phone and link it with the device, so your phone needs to be with you at all times. It’s necessary to have a constant bluetooth connection with your phone and the phone screen must be active (not shown in advertising and you will not find Muama Enence user manual online).
- Seems to ship from China with somewhat long delivery times
- Very basic product design
- We’d advise you to read honest reviews of Muama translator here and here before making any purchase decision.
What is the Best Offline Translator?
As you can see from our detailed analysis, Travis Touch is the only translator that supports offline translation, hence making it the best 2019 offline translator in this list.
How is Travis different?
Pocketalk vs Travis
Pocketalk and Travis are both voice-pocket translators of similar size that interface via touch screens. Both devices are connected to the Internet either through mobile data (using the global SIM card) or Wi-Fi. Bluetooth connection is used to attach external accessories. The sensitivity of high-quality microphones and the clear output sound allow translating anywhere you go. However, Travis offers a wider range of languages and accents making it more universal translator for global travelers. As well, Travis supports several languages for offline translations. These are limited in their depth and mostly used for basic words and phrases. For travelers, especially backpackers and busy business(wo)men, sufficient battery life is crucial and here Travis has an advantage. While in use, Travis can operate for up to 12 hours while Pocketalk has to be charged after 7 hours of use. In practical terms, Travis is more accessible (to purchase) since the device can be delivered worldwide and is significantly less expensive.
ili vs Travis
Compared to ili, Travis outperforms it with a broader utility range. ili focuses on Asian countries, only having four translation languages available. In contrast, Travis offers almost global coverage. With the help of AI technology, translation engines are selected according to the languages prompted for translation, ensuring the most accurate scores for each. Moreover, Travis is capable of two-way translation: it translates back and forth between what you said and what your companion said, allowing an actual conversation to take place. With Travis, you can select from numerous languages to be translated from while with ili the default input language is English. It does not allow translating from Spanish to Japanese, for example. While Travis has several languages that are only available for one-way translation as well, these are the lesser-used ones.
WT2 vs Travis
Translator earbuds WT2 Plus and a voice-pocket translator Travis hold quite different characteristics. First, the contact with technology itself. Earbuds have to be shared between two or four people, making it questionable whether it is comfortable to approach and talk to strangers. While traveling, it might be difficult to share an earbud with a taxi-driver or someone in the bar – not everyone would be willing to use an earbud from the stranger’s hands. Travis, however, is a more neutral device that does not require such personal contact between the speakers and technology. Second, the earbuds depend on the device they are connected to, thus the hassle might arise in less foreseen situations. The rainy day, dead phone’s battery, no Internet connection can be one of these. An independent translator device is more suitable to tackle the spontaneity. On the other hand, WT2 Plus has three translation modes that help to adjust the way the device translates depending on the conversation. That can be very useful but, again, barely applicable for on-the-spot translations.
Find below the relevant specifications for the best translation devices Pocketalk, ili, WT2 Plus, and Travis Touch Plus.
NOTE: Translation accuracy was not compared in this article to preserve as much objectivity as possible. Translation accuracy often depends on a personal view and is hard to measure on general scores.