Translation Gadgets and Software

| Translation Gadgets | Translation Software |

Translation Gadgets

  • Ectaco - electronic handheld translators and software for a wide variety of devices.
    Do the translation yourself with the help of this gadget - the specs are very impressive, and earned it the prestigious Innovation Award from PCWorld Magazine. Its size and weight makes it perfect for travellers. Editor's Pick!

  • SDLChat Translator
    Translate multilingual conversations in real time with this clever gadget. Sadly it only works with AOL Instant Messenger at the moment, but if you use AOL to chat with people in foreign languages this will save you a lot of copying and pasting!

  • Free Online Translations - translate text and web pages.
    A large variety of options and language are available. Click here for more details.

  • Translation Software

    | Choosing A Package | Limitations | Reviews |

    The key to choosing the right software is thinking ahead. It would be a waste of time and money to buy a product that will need to be replaced in a couple of months.

    Spend a couple of minutes thinking of all the possible uses that you may have in the near future. The two most important points to consider are:

  • What language combinations will be required?

  • What will the software be required to do?
  • The answer to the second of those questions may seem obvious, but it is not. Each package is tailored to a particular type of person with a particular need. The main split is between people who are going to do much of the brain work themselves, and those who will rely completely on the software. Working with different word processor and DTP file formats is another common difference between packages.


    You can only translate text that is already on your computer. If you want to translate text that is on paper, you will either have to type it first, or scan it and use OCR (optical character recognition).

    The results produced by any machine translator will not be high quality. It will be enough for someone to know roughly what was written in the original, but some words will be wrong and the grammar will be far from perfect. This is often all that is required, but for higher quality translations, you will need to hire a professional.


    Please realise that new packages are released all the time, and I cannot test them all myself. I rely on the comments of people like you who share their experiences with me. Whenever you buy a new product, please tell me what you think of it.

    Translation Memory

    Designed for professional translators. This software helps to manage large jobs. It can recognise phases that you have translated before, and shows you how they were translated last time. This can improve your consistency and speed.

  • Translation Manager v2.0 - IBM's world leading product.
    Many languages and quite a few document types are supported. It comes complete with a good set of gadgets, unlike similar products that require "add-ons" to be bought at extra cost. It is fast, flexible and effective.

  • Deja Vu - Another fully featured package.
    Like IBM's, this product comes with all the gadgets. The main advantage of Deja Vu is the excellent customer support that is provided free of charge. There are also some good discussion groups about the product.

  • SYSTRAN Professional Premium Systran are the leaders in machine translation but their Professional Premium package is designed for professional translators. You get a full project manager with translation memory and TMX support.
    Also available in the UK.

  • Similar Products:
    Transit, Translator's Workbench, and SDLX all work well.

  • Machine Translation

    Translates text from one language to another. More advanced than simply translating word-for-word, the good packages take context and grammar into consideration. Although computers will never be able to compete with humans when it comes to accuracy, the results are good enough to be useful in a wide variety of situations.

    Systran offers one of the best quality translations. You have to copy and paste into the "Personal" version, but the "Professional" package is much more flexible. With the Pro version, you can translate documents and HTML files while maintaining their original layout. Another useful feature of the Pro version is the user definable dictionary of words and expressions that can be used to override the default meanings. People who do this sort of thing a lot will know just how useful that is! Attractive prices, good quality and the SYSTRAN name are what make this a popular product.
    Also available in the UK.

  • Ectaco
    Their huge range make Ectaco the company to try for the harder to find languages and operating systems. Travellers often choose Ectaco because they have options which can be used on their palm and pocket computers. Their offerings include dictionaries, electronic phrase books and language teachers. All are powerful enough to be useful.

  • SDLDesktop Translator
    A toolbar for Microsoft Word/Outlook that allows you to easily translate between several popular languages leaving the formatting intact. This is a subscription service.

  • Easy Translator by Transparent Language
    Usually described as either average or below average. Poor translation quality is the most common complaint. The only obvious advantage is the price.
    Also available in the UK.

  • Universal Translator by LanguageForce
    Generally considered a waste of money. Universal Translator 2000 would be my choice if I had not heard so many bad things about it. The feature list and price are both very impressive, but the product itself is usually described as "disappointing". Poor quality translations are the main complaint of users, but not the only complaint. I have not found anyone who likes it!
    Also available in the UK.

  • More Options

  • Other Useful Tools

    Professional translators often claim an even higher productivity increase when they use speech recognition. Let's face it - most people can talk faster than they type! For best results you need a fast computer with lots of memory, a good sound card and a fantastic microphone. Dragon NaturallySpeaking is most people's favourite. Try the US version or UK version.

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