Sunday, March 02, 2008
Franklin Electronic Spanish-English Dictionary
A while back I reviewed a 12-language electronic translator from Franklin that was meant for traveling all around Europe. This more focused Spanish-English one ends up being more robust and in the end, far more useful. The Franklin DBE-1490 goes far beyond being just a dictionary, also functioning as a learning tool, grammar guide, and phrase book.
Although this can seem overwhelming at first--to have four thick books crammed into one calculator-sized device--the controls are intuitive and the instructions are well-written and organized. I found translating words and phrases to be a snap and anticipate a lot of airplane time playing learning games and quizzes in order to improve my command of the language.
The dictionary part is dead simple and accurate. I used it to translate words I didn't know on Click Mexicana's Spanish-only website, to the point I was able to successfully book a flight for within Mexico. I can imagine using this for airport and highways signs also while on the move.
To speak in full sentences, you can choose the phrases function to scroll through in either language, looking up the likes of, "Hay alguien aqui qu hable ingles?" (Does anyone here speak English?) The games and exercises include Hangman, flash cards, a spelling bee, a gender tutor, and others.
As is often the case with a Spanish dictionary or phrase book, this one is geared to Spanish as it is spoken in Spain, not as it is in the far more vast Latin American region, from Mexico down through the bottom of Chile. So when you travel with this through the Americas, it would also be helpful to take along a phrase book for the country (like a Mexican Spanish phrase book) or the region (a Latin America Spanish phrase book). Otherwise, you might miss a lot of idioms and descriptive phrases. This will get you the right word or phrase at least 90 percent of the time though, which is usually good enough.
The Franklin Spanish-English Electronic Dictionary is stuffed with some 274,000 definitions (from Miriam-Webster) and loads of other tools. The thin device is only about 4 by 5 inches, with an ample display screen (monochrome), a hinged cover, and keys that weren't built for a 4-year-old's fingers. It retails for $50-$60.
Buy it at Amazon