If you’re not in the know about what this handy pocket device does, it translates between 82 different languages and speaks the output. Simply press and hold the button on the front of the device and say your piece, it will automatically recognise your voice, compute the translation, and spit out whatever language you choose.
Where we see the Pocketalk being useful is away from mainland Europe. For instance, in a rural area of Japan or Kazakhstan where you will have little chance of communicating with anything more than hand gestures.
In our experience voice recognition works smoothly even when speaking to the device naturally. As you speak, the screen types out what the device is picking up, allowing you to quickly identify and correct mistakes to avoid any potentially embarrassing mis-translations.
The output sounds a little robotic, somewhere between an Alexa and a sat nav, that could certainly put people off using the Pocketalk Plus, but if it facilitates a conversation where none would previously be possible then it’s a worthwhile compromise.
All translations work over a cellular network rather than within the device. For this, you need a connected SIM with a data plan for the country you’re in. The Plus comes with a complimentary 2-year data plan with coverage in over 130 countries but after that you will need to make your own arrangements.
In addition to voice translations, the Pocketalk Plus has a few other tricks in its Android-based operating system.
There’s a simple convertor for currency, length, width, and temperature and a text-to-translate camera that can translate signs and documents. These are superfluous to the main translation feature but they’re handy additions to have nonetheless.
Battery life is fantastic, with up to 330 minutes of continuous translation time and 192 hours of standby time. In practice, this means that the Pocketalk Plus lasts for about a week of general use before it needs charging via USB type-C, which is common across most Android phones.
Overall, we found the Pocketalk Plus faultless in its primary role as a translation device. The UI is smooth and simple, and the ergonomics are such that it’s a breeze to use. Battery life is fantastic, the screen is bright and responsive, and the speaker is loud and clear. If you’re regularly travelling to countries where communication is difficult or impossible the Plus is worth the hefty price tag.