Ectaco electronic dictionary

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 April, 2008, 12:00am

What is it? An ingenious hand-held device that combines a translating dictionary, phrase book and travel guide with a host of other travel-friendly features.

What's so good about it?

The iTRAVL NTL-9C comes loaded with nine languages (including English and Putonghua) but you can use additional secure digital cards to install up to 50. It translates phrases aloud.

An easy-to-navigate high-resolution colour touch-screen gives access to an MP3 player, voice recorder, calculator, metric converter and clock with international times. Information (on hotels, restaurants, local attractions and transportation) for 50 cities is provided by travel publisher Fodor's while the CIA World Factbook offers data for 180 countries.

Tell me more: the award-winning gadget is tailored to foreseeable travel situations and gives access to more than 5 million words and 70,000 phrases. The device can translate general, medical, legal and business terms and idioms. The dictionary has more than 1.6 million words, which can be 'spoken' by synthetic voice, to assist with pronunciation.

How does it work? The menu can be activated by voice or touch. For a translation, say a phrase into the microphone or type it in with the stylus - then listen. The 'language teacher' setting will show a foreign word and the translation in English, say it in the foreign language and evaluate your pronunciation. The device may be used with headphones.

Why do I need one? The iTRAVL helps relieve the frustration of not being understood, especially in emergency situations; iHELP gives instant access to a list of emergency phrases. The device is unobtrusive, lightweight (212 grams) and compact (15.2cm by 8cm by 1.6cm). A calculator converts international shoe and clothing sizes. The device also includes some cultural notes.

Where can I get one? The iTRAVL NTL-9C costs US$599.95. Order from for delivery to Hong Kong.