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Globetrotting is a passion of mine. Within the past two years I’ve visited France, England, Holland, Italy, Belgium, Thailand, Macao, and China; some more than once. As you can imagine, I’ve had my share of language barrier struggles in my travels. During my last visit to China, I experienced several very frustrating moments of trying to communicate with the locals, at times just staring at one another blankly, moments of true silent torture. So, when I was offered to test out the Franklin 12-Language Speaking Global Translator, I was overjoyed to take on the opportunity to try it out on my next international trip, which was to Italy.
When I first opened up the box, I found the translator, user guides in six different languages, headphones, a USB charger, and USB cable. I read the English guide, which was very easy to follow and compact in size, which was convenient for bringing along on my trip. However, I never had to refer to it after reading through it once since the navigability of the translator is very easy to follow and understand.
I also never had to recharge the translator all week while on my trip. The battery life is amazingly long (claimed life is one week of normal use or six hours of music playing). Buttons on the translator allow the user to easily switch between the source language and the target languages, listen to the word/phrase spoken in each language, adjust volume, access files, play games, listen to MP3s, lookup words and phrases, check the time, set an alarm, convert values (such as temperatures, weights, currency), and record voice memos.
I was truly impressed by the breadth of the very useful functions this translator offers, and even more impressed with the surprisingly natural speaking voice. The device will translate 12 languages for you: Chinese (Mandarin), Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. While there were times when the voice was a bit unclear, for the most part the intonations were very accurate.
It was tempting, but in fear of looking ridiculous, I refrained from having the translator talk to people for me. Instead, I found myself pulling out the handy translator out of my bag to quickly look up key words and phrases in times of need. For instance, one day while in Italy, my sister and I took a local train out to a Tuscan village and tried to ask a local woman if there was a good place to eat. At first I tried motioning the act of eating, but I quickly realized I looked like a fool, so I whipped out the translator, looked up the word and listened to the wonderfully lifelike voice’s pronunciation of the word “eat” in Italian (which, by the way, is “mangiare”). After I did my best emulation of the spoken translation, the woman I was talking to quickly pointed me to a sandwich shop. Other instances in which the translator helped was in translating words on signs and items on restaurants menus, as well as in learning key phrases such as “I’m lost” or “May I have the check, please?”
A couple of drawbacks I found with the translator were with the MP3 player. First of all, the capacity is almost nonexistent with only 90MB of free space. So, using the limited free space, I was able to squeeze in a few songs, but after playing one of the songs and shutting off the translator, I found that I was unable to turn the translator back on! I reset the system, then went through the process again to make sure that it wasn’t some sort of glitch–played an MP3, turned off the translator, then tried turning it on again. The same happened again! I tried it a few more times and am convinced it’s some sort of bug in the system.
One positive thing to note about the MP3 player is that the sound quality is terrific. If there was room for at least 50 more songs, I wouldn’t have brought an MP3 player with me at all on the trip and used the translator as my all-in-one travel gadget.
Aside from the MP3 player issues, the Franklin 12-Language Speaking Global Translator is a great little gadget to bring along with you on international trips, meetings with international folks, or even just to use as a language learning tool. For $229.95 it’s not cheap, but it’s definitely worth every penny.
Post by Gina Suk
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