Up-front disclosure: We received this instant translation device from Travis for review purposes, but we hope to be as unbiased as possible!
The Product: Travis Touch Go (€199.00)
Our Take: 4 / 5 Stars
Today’s review is dedicated to the Travis Touch Go, a pocket translator created specifically for world travelers. The creators of this device strongly believe that everyone has the right to be understood, and they seek to give this opportunity even to those who do not speak a single word in a foreign language.
Though the coronavirus pandemic made travel difficult, I was able to take the Travis Touch Go for a test drive to see if it delivers on the company’s promises, how easy it is to use, and how good the quality of translation is. At the end of this review, you’ll also find my thoughts on why you might want to invest in a pocket translator if you enjoy traveling and need some help communicating with the locals.
The design of the device is very simple and sleek, if not minimalistic. The power button is located on the right side, at the bottom there are two plugs for the standard micro USB and headphones, and at the top there is a speaker and mic to use during your dual-language conversations with the locals. There are also three buttons, two of them used for translation; one is for the language you use, and the second for the language you need a translation from.
The Travis Touch Go comes in two colors, black and white (although the white one appears to be sold out at the moment). For €15, you can also buy a protective case, which comes in handy against scratches and scrapes if you are a frequent traveler.
The dimensions are 110 x 60 x 16 mm, so it is much smaller (however, not much lighter) than any regular phone and it will fit in most pockets. In my opinion, the 2.4 inch touchscreen is slightly too small and needs extra precision and some time to get used to it.
The Travis Touch Go is perfect for anyone who values their time and does not want to sit for hours trying to figure out complicated new technology (it will be perfect even for your granddad if he doesn’t mind the small screen). There is not much you can do with it as with the features of today’s smartphones, except, of course, its main purpose, so forget about various customization options 🙂
The device supports 155 languages online and is perfect for two-way translations. You can use either WiFi or a SIM card to connect to the internet or use it offline for some selected languages; however, the quality of offline translations will be not as perfect. The Travis Touch Go also has an embedded eSIM, so you can simply purchase a data pack from their website and hit the road.
As far as system languages are concerned, you can choose from English, Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian, and Spanish.
Quality of Translation
The working principle is easy – you choose two languages, the one you speak and the one you need a translation from, press the button to speak, et voilà, it instantly translates the phrase to the second person, both written on the screen and out loud.
Unfortunately, all my recent trips were canceled due to the coronavirus, so I could not battle test the Travis Touch Go in the wild. But, not to brag or anything, I fluently speak four languages myself (Ukrainian, Russian, Polish, and English), so I had some fun checking out the quality of translation and the general user experience by having conversations with myself 🙂 However, I was also able to use it in actual two-way mode, with both Uber drivers here where I live in Poland (English-Polish & Russian-Polish) as well as with my boyfriend in all four languages.
The device easily and effortlessly translates some simple questions and phrases, such as asking for directions, items on a menu, or an imaginary dialogue about the price and purchase of a souvenir. I noticed that the longer the phrase gets, the more time might be needed for the Travis Touch Go to load the translation, so occasionally it might take you a few awkward seconds before your interlocutor will be able to hear it. A few times I also noted that it didn’t catch the phrase, so I had to repeat the same question all over. Generally speaking, thought, it does a fine job at understanding everyday speech.
I would like to give a shout out to the Travis team for coming up with a great initiative: $2.50 from each sold Travis device goes straight to their Travis Foundation, a non-profit organization that aspires to digitize lesser-resourced languages. For me, as for a true language nerd, this makes the purchase especially noteworthy!
In the beginning, I was not so convinced about the idea of using a dedicated device for translations during my travels, because each of us has a phone with Google Translate on our person. If you have the same arguments against using this little fellow, hear me out.
First of all, you won’t feel equally safe at every destination you travel to around the world, as tourists are an easy target for pickpocketers in certain places. Usually, you wouldn’t want to pull out the latest iPhone and hand it to a stranger in a weird neighborhood as you trying to get direction. It is not only a thousand dollars that you might lose but all your personal data and access to tons of crucial items. And, of course, the trip will immediately become much more unpleasant if not ruined. Thanks to its simple design, the Travis Touch Go does not attract much unnecessary attention and allows you to communicate and feel more comfortable in a foreign country with no phone needed.
Another problem might be the lack of a stable Internet connection, which simply will not let you use the translation app right when you need it. A cheap local SIM card will solve this problem, and you can also be sure that all the Internet you pay for will be put to good use.
There is some room for improvement, as the performance of the device is not flawless. It might also be difficult to imagine an ongoing long conversation with the Travis Touch Go, but the situation might change in the future with regular updates. Nevertheless, you might consider buying this device if you cannot imagine your life without traveling to some remote places and want to feel a bit more confident and comfortable during your journeys.