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.
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.
The palm-sized ECTACO Partner 900 is ideal for those interested in learning Spanish. It instantly converts voice text by repeating it aloud or speaking it in Spanish or English, and also has a roster of other features to help you learn the language. Take a photo of text (such as a restaurant menu) and it instantly converts it to English (an Internet connection is required for this part of the program). There’s also a talking picture dictionary and phrasebook, as well as a full language-learning program with linguistic crosswords and pronunciation assistance. The translator measures 6 x 3.5 x 0.7 inches and weighs 9.8 ounces.
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.
Language Scientific was founded in 1999 by a group of international scientists and engineers. The company was born out of the group’s frustration with the inaccurate technical and scientific translations they discovered while working together on a nuclear non-proliferation project for the US Department of Energy. Today, Language Scientific has grown to include over 5,000 highly specialized translators. https://uncubed.com/daily/best-translation-apps-for-travel-in-2019/
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.
There are three buttons. The power button does what you’d expect. You hold the big one on the front to have ili listen and automatically translate. Tapping it again will repeat the phrase it just spoke. The third button repeats back what it thinks you said, in ili’s voice. If you hold down that last button it switches between the ili's 3 languages: Spanish, Japanese, and Mandarin.