I’m split on the ili in two ways. I travel a lot. For the last 3+ years I’ve spent extended time in over 30 countries across 5 continents. In all that time I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve needed any translator. While Mandarin is the most-spoken first language in the world (Spanish being second), English is by far the most prevalent second language. It’s essentially the lingua franca of the world, especially in touristy places. In the times during my travels there was no common language between me and someone, a big smile and hand gestures worked wonders.
These devices are a popular gift for elderly relatives or retirees doing a bit of traveling, and the last thing they need is to spend all day messing around with a faulty Bluetooth connection, which is why the top picks on this list all have big screens. You won't need to pair them with your phone, and they support a wide variety of languages. More niche options have features like offline translation, but the language selection is limited.
Human translation: Human translation is performed by people who are fluent in the language pair being translated. The whole process, from translation to proofreading, is performed by people. This type of translation is generally more accurate than machine translation since the humans who translate will account for nuances and cultural context. Because of this, though, it takes longer than machine translation.
But I understand that not everyone is willing to wing it like that. Some topics aren’t as easily explained with hand gestures (how do you mime something like “hotel” or "I'm allergic to peanuts."). While I’m a strong proponent of getting a local SIM when you travel, and thereby gaining access to Google Translate wherever you are, that too is not always possible.
For an alternative to carrying several dictionaries in various languages, the Brookstone Passport is an excellent choice and provides more than 8,000 useful phrases. The device cross translates 12 international languages: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Turkish, Dutch, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese and Swedish. Measuring 5.4 x 4.8 x 4 inches, the portable translator has eight conversational categories to choose from and it “speaks” aloud and displays the phrase on the screen. Another handy feature is that it allows you to save up to 50 favorite phrases. It also comes with a built-in personal phone book to help stay organized and an auto-shut off button with password access.  https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/google-translate/id414706506?mt=8
TransPerfect was founded in 1992 as a two-person operation. Today, the company employees over 3,500 people full-time and has a network of over 5,000 certified linguists and subject-area specialists. Their offices have expanded from a single dorm room to 90 offices across the world, making TransPerfect the world’s largest privately held language services provider. https://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/17/technology/personaltech/17smart.html
Thanks for reading the fine print. About the Wiki: We don't accept sponsorships, free goods, samples, promotional products, or other benefits from any of the product brands featured on this page, except in cases where those brands are manufactured by the retailer to which we are linking. For our full ranking methodology, please read about us, linked below. The Wiki is a participant in associate programs from Amazon, Walmart, Ebay, Target, and others, and may earn advertising fees when you use our links to these websites. These fees will not increase your purchase price, which will be the same as any direct visitor to the merchant’s website. If you believe that your product should be included in this review, you may contact us, but we cannot guarantee a response, even if you send us flowers.
Cloudwords is free for a customer to use for up to three languages in 5 concurrent projects at time. Included with Cloudwords free edition, there is a choice of integrations with Marketing Automation (Marketo, Eloqua, SFMC, etc), Content Management (Wordpress, Drupal, etc) or product content (Github, Subversion, etc) that automatically interface with existing tools.
It was actually making the video that brought me around on the ili. How well it worked, understanding what I said and quickly translating it, all without the help of the Internet, that was pretty neat. Right now, I can see this coming in handy for a lot of people. In the near future, though, I’m positive Trek’s Universal Translator, or the Babel fish, or C-3P0, will all definitely be possible soon.
It was actually making the video that brought me around on the ili. How well it worked, understanding what I said and quickly translating it, all without the help of the Internet, that was pretty neat. Right now, I can see this coming in handy for a lot of people. In the near future, though, I’m positive Trek’s Universal Translator, or the Babel fish, or C-3P0, will all definitely be possible soon.
It's important to keep in mind there’s no such thing as “real time translation” yet, despite what Google says. We’re still not quite there for the Star Trek-style Universal Translator that just speaks in your language while someone else is speaking. Right now it’s sentence (pause) by sentence (pause), give or take a few sentences. No translator is meant to tell your life story. Mostly it’s for asking for the bathroom. The ili does that, and a lot more. It's positioned as travel-centric, but I threw a lot of random phrases its way and it did pretty well. Maybe it can't translate random medical conditions, but just about anything a traveler would need should be covered.

Gregg Parker is a writer and puppy enthusiast who divides his time between Los Angeles and the rest of the world. A graduate of the University of Southern California, his eclectic career has involved positions in education, health care, entertainment, nonprofit fundraising, technology, and literature. A points and miles expert, he's well-versed in all topics related to travel, including luggage and travel accessories. Other areas of expertise include pet care products, teaching resources, kitchen appliances, and anything related to coffee or barbecue.

I’m split on the ili in two ways. I travel a lot. For the last 3+ years I’ve spent extended time in over 30 countries across 5 continents. In all that time I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve needed any translator. While Mandarin is the most-spoken first language in the world (Spanish being second), English is by far the most prevalent second language. It’s essentially the lingua franca of the world, especially in touristy places. In the times during my travels there was no common language between me and someone, a big smile and hand gestures worked wonders.
Amara Enterprise delivers powerful solutions for your video accessibility and localization needs. Key platform features include private and secure workspaces, flexible workflows for creating quality subtitles, plus a powerful API for connecting seamlessly to your own platform. Amara helps companies around the world streamline their subtitling processes.
We spent 25 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. As friendly as people can be in other countries, there are some concepts you simply can't get across through pantomime. Before you head off on that round-the-world dream vacation, consider one of these voice translators. They take up a lot less space in a suitcase than 15 different dictionaries would, so you'll have more room for souvenirs. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best voice translator on Amazon.
Machine translation: Machine translation refers to a computer performing the work of translating. Translating services who utilize machine translation employ human editors to proofread and review the machine translation before giving to the client. These translations are often faster than human translations, however, they may lack nuance and cultural fluency. They are a good option when you need a literal translation fast and don’t need it to have exact cultural fluency. https://mashable.com/2017/01/26/word-lens-japanese/
×