Pocket voice translator: Do we need another gadget when travelling? – Review of VASCO TRANSLATOR M3

This post is also available in: Български

I remember our honeymoon to South Italy many years ago, when we were wandering on the streets of a village in Sicily, looking for a non-existing hotel. We stopped a local granny to ask her about the direction and as you may guess, the conversation went with a lot of hand gestures and terrified faces. Finally, we managed to understand that there was no hotel in the village and we should try a farm with guest houses in the neighbouring village. In the dark, we jumped in the car, heating to the nowhere.

There are places and moments where your fancy polished English skills are totally useless and you need to use the language of gestures. However, this language is not as universal either, so a translator nearby is always a good idea. Not that we could not survive without it, but we wouldn’t refuse some help. This is why we decided to tell you of this new gadget that could bring a lot of ease in such situations – the pocket voice translator VASCO TRANSLATOR M3.

Vasco pocket translator M3
Vasco pocket translator M3

What is VASCO TRANSLATOR M3 and what it does?

From the first sight, it looks like an old iPod – light, thin, simple and beautiful in design, obviously manufactured with high attention to detail. Its main advantage is translating speech from over 70 languages. Speech to speech translation is available in more than half of the languages. In the others the option is speech to text or buying an additional speech to speech pack for selected languages.

According to the manufacturer, it should provide 96% translation accuracy. Our tests with languages we speak show similar results, especially with world-popular languages like English, Italian and French. It also did well with our native Bulgarian which is usually a challenge for automated translators, including Google Translate.

How it works?

Using VASCO TRANSLATOR M3 is pretty simple. It arrives with some charge and you can turn it on straight out of the box. The on/off button is on the side and there is another button for volume controls. On the front panel there are two buttons for switching between the languages. The menu is simple, you choose the two languages you will be speaking and you are ready to start. Press the first button, speak, then wait to translate. Then press the second button and your partner can start speaking in his language. When it is your turn to speak, press the first button again. Use the two buttons to switch between the languages, there is still no automatic language recognition.

Apart from the voice translation, it also delivers on the screen written translation and also the rcorded text in the original language.

More functions – MultiTalk, TranslaCall, photo translator, foreign language lessons

Besides the voice translation of a dialogue, the device has several other useful functions.

The MultiTalk function allows you to hold a conversation with up to 100 people speaking in different languages. The device returns written translation on the screen and records it so you can quickly get back to previous conversations.

TranslaCall is another helpful function, allowing translation during phone calls.

There is also the “I am in China” checkbox, made especially for recognizing English language with Chinese accent.

The Photo Translator is also helpful. You take the photo with the device’s embedded camera and then it captures and translates the text in your language. Very helpful for all kinds of street signs, restaurant menus, etc.

There is also a function for studying foreign language. In the early levels it just translates single common words between two languages. But it is a nice way to study languages by listening. Our daughter was excited to try to learn some English words and phrases by telling them in Bulgarian and listening to the English translation provided by the device.

Vasco Translator M3 has many other functions besides translating a dialogue
Vasco Translator M3 has many other functions besides translating a dialogue

Why do I need a separate translator when I have Google Translate?

Well, this was one of the first questions we asked ourselves. But there are several things that make the difference between VASCO TRANSLATOR M3 and other online translation services and apps.

First of all, the VASCO TRANSLATOR M3 has its own SIM card with unlimited lifetime access to Internet in more than 200 countries. No additional subscription plans or payments about this – you just buy and use for the years ahead. No need of crazy roaming fees for mobile data. In the countries where mobile data service is not available, the device also works with wi-fi. You can check on their website the countries where the service is limited, most of them are in Africa.

Another thing is that a separate device has a separate battery ad network and it does not drain your battery and mobile data limit. I bet that every traveller knows what it is to get lost in an unknown city or village with dead phone and no idea where to go. Our experience shows that such things happen in the evening and sometimes are not that romantic. Indeed, we are not fans of bringing multiple devices with us but this one is only 88 grams and pocket-size, so it doesn’t bother to take it with you anywhere. It is charged with a regular USB type C cable and the battery lasts for a long time.

VASCO TRANSLATOR M3 next to an average 6.5 inch smartphone
VASCO TRANSLATOR M3 next to an average 6.5 inch smartphone

About the quality of translation, it is similar to the Google Translate service for the major languages. It actually did quite better with some not that popular languages, like our native Bulgarian, which is a challenge for most virtual translators.

Translation from Bulgarian to Polish
Translation from Bulgarian to Polish

I think that it could also be a good helper for travelling elders who are not familiar with all smartphone services and do not use them daily. A simpler to use device like this could bring them more comfort and confidence during travelling.

Disadvantages

Well, I admit that you could find some features of this device annoying, at least in the beginning. But after all, this is technology and I think they are acceptable, related to the benefits.

In the standard mode you should better speak one by one, saying the words as correctly as possible and avoid strong slangs and dialects. Otherwise, the device might catch a wrong word and compromise the translation. The device returns the translations after 2 seconds, so take a breath and wait. You can adjust how loud and fast it speaks. If while you are speaking, someone else in the room is speaking too, the device might be confused. However, it manages well on noisy streets and such places where noise in inevitable, as soon as there are not many people near the microphone speaking at the same time.

The translator did great with the outdoors noise - on the street and in the park
The translator did great with the urban noise on the street and in the park

What is in the package?

Mind that the included functions and languages may vary depending on where you are buying your device from. For example, the devices sold from the Bulgarian store provide voice translation in Bulgarian language. It also provides local support in Bulgarian language for the Bulgarian customers. However, the devices on the Polish store or the international store have other options. If you are in the UK, you may be able to buy an additional Bulgarian voice translation pack.

In the box you will also fine a silicone protector and rubber band, as well as a very elegant charger and cable. We really liked the packaging and even joked that this must be a hidden product of Apple. Actually, Vasco Electronics is a company established in Poland which specializes in translation devices for many years and leads the way .

Vasco Translator M3 is very elegant and extremely portable
Vasco Translator M3 is very elegant and extremely portable

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