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I am in two minds with this review. Do I write something singing the praises of this pocket translator or do I tell you how rubbish it is - I suppose the truth depends very much on how you use it.
I am quite into my languages, I learnt French to a high standard, dabble with Spanish and am struggling to learn Polish - the perils of having a Polish girlfriend! Having had a good look round I found that you can spend an awful lot of money on these translators and will end up with something fairly chunky with a fancy display and a speaker so that the words and phrases can be read out loud to you. I just wanted something slimline (so I can fit it in my jeans pocket), cheap and contained a list of the most frequently used words. At £20 in Argos this fitted the bill.
The translator in its case measures around 12cm, by 7cm by 1cm. The case is metal and is fairly scratch resistant and protects the translator well. It takes one of those small circular batteries and in 2 years of use I have never had to replace it. I imagine that is because it does not take much power. The screen is basic and offers a readout of the same standard as the ones you find on the calculators I used to use at school.
You press the power button and the translator comes to life immediately - this is a real treat because more expensive models can take an age to boot. The translator has all kinds of functionality but the calculator, alarm and clock are naff, difficult to get to and you will be much better off using your mobile phone for these purposes. Plus i'm guessing that if you wanted a pocket translator these facilities weren't high on your 'must have' list so I wont bother going into them here.
When it comes to translating this device offers you twenty different languages containing several thousand words in each language. It doesn't give any details of grammar, how the verbs break down, common adjective endings etc but it is handy for a quick reference if you just want to look up a word. I find that most words I want to use are in there but it is never going to be a full replacement for a decent dictionary. Where everything breaks down is when you come to use it for real - I can't believe that whoever designed the software used it themselves. I tend to use it when I am sat with the girlfriend's family in Poland and want to have a very basic conversation with them or quickly look up a word I have heard. Setting it up is clunky, you need to follow the thick instruction booklet to get to the part to set the home languge (i.e. the language you will type in) - this will involve clicking a button up to 19 times to go round the screen, through all the language options until you get to the one you are looking for. You then need to do the same thing to find the target language. Once done it remembers those settings so if you turn off and on you can still do a Bulgarian to Russian translation or whatever takes your fancy. Ok so now you are ready to translate your first word, but again it's less than obvious where you can do this from so another visit to the instruction booklet is needed. I find the word, read it out and funnily enough the person I am talking to replies...at this point I often need them to type in a word in Polish so that I can find it in English. It would be very very handy to have a button to reverse the languages but sadly this isn't the case. You need to click those buttons again - up to 19 times for the home language and another 19 times for the target language until you are ready to go. At this point you both realise it is all too much effort and go back to using gestures and waving your hands around a lot.
Another facility the translator offers is a list of set phrases. These are broken down into sections: greetings, travel etc. Some of them are quite handy but they are not tailored for each language. For example I have no idea why I would want to aplogise to a Polish person because I can't speak Spanish. It's quite slow going through the menus to find a suitable phrase so these are more useful to read through at leisure and try to remember them for use later.
Looking back I realise most of what I have written is very negative but I come back to the fact that this device has helped me out on numerous occasions, it fits into my pocket easily and takes no time at all to load up. All in all while I think the software is a load of rubbish I will continue to take it away with me and will refer to it often.
Short name: Franklin TG112