How Do I Choose the Best Handheld Language Translator?

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  • Written By: Tara Barnett
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 10 July 2014
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A handheld language translator can be a major investment, so it is important to choose the best one. Some features to consider include the device's portability, its battery life, and its ability to translate. In many cases, it may be better to go with a handheld language translator that only works between two languages, as these devices are often more comprehensive than those that translate between many languages. It is also important to consider how one will actually be using the device, because while some people primarily need a dictionary for minor help, others need a survival tool. Given all the options for a handheld language translator, it is a good idea to do significant research before making a major purchase.

Some pocket translators are large and clunky by today's technology standards. Most people who use this type of device are traveling, and so having a compact translator is important. Another problem for translators is battery life. If the machine cannot make it through an entire day, then it will not be very good for problems that might arise and require translation. Essentially, if the device does not work properly, there is no use in owning it.


There are several different input styles for handheld language translators. Some translators are advanced enough to work with speech recognition, but most involve either typed input or written input using a special pen and the screen. How the resulting translation is displayed is also important. A program may be able to play an audio clip of the translation, or it may merely display it on the translator's screen. In that case, one must make sure that one can actually utilize the resulting information, because if one cannot read what the screen says because the language uses different characters, one will not be able to make much use of the dictionary except by showing it to people.

Many people are drawn to devices that can translate between many different languages. These features are truly stunning and may be useful for people who travel a lot. It is somewhat rare that a person will ever use that many languages. A device that works with only two languages may not have as many options in terms of translation possibilities, but it is often more detailed and accurate because it has been developed for a very specific use and can devote more space to fulfilling that function.

One final thing to consider is that many phones now have the capacity to function as translators. The functionality of some phone translators can be quite complex and may involve spoken as well as written components. These programs are often much more inexpensive than a handheld language translator and involve no additional technology. One may find that after looking at all available programs one doesn't need a handheld language translator at all.


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