The Best Language Translator Devices

When you don’t have enough time to learn a new language—or at least cram for the basic phrases—you can turn to technology.

Part of travel is learning about a different culture, eating the food, exploring the country, learning the culture, and picking up the language. But there's only so much Duolingo can teach you before you get to the gate, so here's what to look for in a language translation device.

Instant Success

Battery should be your first consideration. If you're going to rely on one of these pocket translators to get around to some degree, you shouldn't have to worry about it dying on you right before you find out where the restroom is. Look for features like a "push-to-talk" button as well, so you're only using power when you need it.

A Two-way Road

Another feature to consider is "two-way" translation, where wboth parties can talk in their preferred language and understand each other. It's a bit disconcerting when you try it at first, and in some cases, it may take a moment for the device to crunch the language and offer a translation, but it's an incredibly useful feature. And as a bonus, you'll be able to better abide by social norms like eye contact, so it makes you a bit more polite, too.

Look the Part

Form factor matters. Modern language translators have both the classic "remote" version, where you point it at somebody and press the button, and more discreet earbuds, dedicated entirely to translating. If you're going to need your hands free, or just don't feel like waving a candy bar shaped object around, go with the earbuds.