Two-Way Interpreter Devices for Travel

Two-Way Interpreter Devices for Travel

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At some point during any adventure, you’ll need to communicate with a local—whether it’s giving directions to a taxi driver, asking for advice, or (in the worst case scenario) explaining your symptoms to a doctor. The best way to prepare? Get yourself one of the best pocket translators.

At a Glance: Best Pocket Translators

Pocket translators are compact devices that quickly translate between two languages ​​in real time (but they usually work with multiple languages). This means that you can speak into the device and it will quickly speak the phrase in the desired language. Because pocket translators are designed specifically for translation, these devices are much faster and more advanced than your typical smartphone translator app. For example, if you’re fluent in two languages, you know that Google Translate often makes strange choices or mistakes (especially if you’re using slang, working with accents, or trying to speak casually).

With the best pocket translators, you get fluent, natural communication in both directions, regardless of the speaker’s voice. If you’re looking for a more rewarding, safer travel experience, check out the best pocket translators below.

Best Pocket Translators to Buy Online

Whether you’re traveling or learning a new language at home, the best pocket translators below are an easy and effective means of communication for two-way translation and conversation. We created this list by testing pocket translators in a number of scenarios using both voice-to-text and text-to-text translations. We also compared our experience with other expert and customer reviews before recommending the translators below. They’re all available through trusted retailers with average customer ratings of at least 3.7/5 stars.

Editor’s Choice

Pocketalk is one of the biggest names in pocket translators, and the S model is the best pocket translator we’ve tested. Here are the Pocketalk S’s language specs from their site: “61 voice-to-text dual-sided, 21 voice-to-text dual-sided, and up to 37 lesser-known languages ​​voice-to-text single-sided. The camera will recognize and translate 55 languages.” In short, most of the languages ​​loaded into the Pocketalk S work for voice-to-speaker translation in both directions, which is a big plus, while the rest may require a bit of reading from one or more participants. In our tests, the built-in LTE data connection was fast, and the interface was very intuitive. Plus, the Pocketalk S is smaller than an iPhone, which makes it very easy to carry around.


Another highly recommended pocket translator device is the Vasco V4. The smartphone-like device has a very simple interface that makes it easy for foreigners to understand when necessary. It comes in 108 languages ​​(76 of which are voice-activated), so you’ll probably be covered for any conversation. This device also uses a built-in SIM for data connectivity, which you’ll never have to pay for. It’s very close to the Pocketalk S, but the deciding factor for us was the Pocketalk’s slightly smaller size; our pockets tend to fill up quickly when we’re travelling.

Headphone Translator

Earphone translators are another style of pocket translator. They’re usually smaller (about the size of AirPods) and work great for on-the-fly voice translation. However, you’ll give up the ability to translate photos and text. If you want to go the earbud route, grab these Timekettle M3s . You can share them with someone and have a quick, organic-feeling conversation without the device in the middle. The app comes with 40 languages ​​preloaded, and a 25-hour battery life (7.5 hours of continuous use) with the charging case gives the M3s more power than the options above.

Pocket Translator Shopping Guide

Since they are a relatively new invention, it can be difficult to distinguish good pocket translators from bad ones. Here are a few features we keep in mind when purchasing the best pocket translators.

Languages: Obviously, the more languages ​​the better, so we chose translators that support dozens of languages ​​(up to 104 for the most advanced). However, you want to make sure that a pocket translator is proficient in all the languages ​​it supports. For example, some translators may support fewer languages ​​than others, but they may also offer faster and more accurate translations. If you don’t plan on using a lot of languages, look for a high-quality translator who can fully understand the language you want.

Connection: Most pocket translators have built-in data connections to translate without another device or WiFi connection. Some also connect to your smartphone and work using your phone’s data or WiFi connection. The former (translators with built-in data) are a step ahead because you can use them anywhere, anytime without WiFi or a smartphone connection.

Battery life: Keeping devices charged while traveling is always a challenge, and unfortunately, when your device runs out of battery (say, when you’re miles away from your hotel and completely lost) it’s even more of a disaster. Battery life among pocket translators varies a lot (even among high-end models), so be mindful of that when shopping.

DataAs mentioned, most of the best pocket translators use built-in data connections to work. Fortunately, all of our data-connected picks include a free two-year data plan. You’ll want to check two things regarding data, though: coverage and the cost of paying for data after your free two years are up.

How We Selected the Best Pocket Translators

We spent a lot of time playing with dozens of languages ​​when testing pocket translators. But we also used them in real English-Spanish and English-French conversations, and while traveling in Portugal for a few days, giving a few speeches and using the camera features for text translations. After testing, we combed through customer and other expert reviews to decide on the options above.