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As I travel around the world, it never ceases to amaze me just how many people are fluent in more than one language. Although I picked up a few Japanese words and phrases during High School, I definitely can’t hold a conversation in Japanese these days.

Granted, I am blessed that the only language I can speak is spoken nearly everywhere to at least some degree. Though this isn’t always true once you start travelling off the beaten path, and it is a sign of respect when visiting someone else’s country that you at least attempt to speak in their native tongue.

I am well aware that I should be the one to learn other languages. I don’t expect other cultures to conform to my native language, and I do actually enjoy discovering destinations that haven’t adopted English as an alternate or additional language.

Entertainment value of the awkward hand gestures and charades aside, it’s generally the hallmark of experiencing something truly authentic when the local population doesn’t speak English. Like many frequent travellers though, I don’t have the aptitude to learn 16 different languages, but I still want to communicate effectively wherever I go.

Last year I wrote an article about using MESAY, which is a portable language translator that you speak into, and it spits out translations in real time. Though the company has recently developed an upgrade, and will soon be launching MESAY 2.0.

Travelling With a Portable Language Translator: Mesay 2.0 Review

MESAY 2.0 Translator

MESAY is a portable device that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to make translations in real time. You speak into the device, and it spits out your sentence in your desired language almost instantly, with very good accuracy.

It’s a two way translation device, so the person you’re speaking to then responds in their native language, and it translates it back to you. The great thing about MESAY is that you can have an actual conversation with someone, with quick translations allowing it to flow naturally.

While I’m a fan of MESAY 1.0, the company has just launched on Kickstarter for MESAY 2.0, a second generation device with some serious upgrades from the first one.

This new model is a slim portable device allowing for the translation of 16 different languages. While the device is on pre order now for shipping in June, they have sent me one of the first models to review.

Mesay 2.0 Photos

Front of the Device

MESAY 2.0 - a portable language translation device

Back of the Device

MESAY 2.0 - a portable language translation device

Spec Details

Construction

Mesay’s new model is durable and rich looking with a white gloss finish and IPS colour LCD. The new look is sleeker than the original model, and looks like a high end device.

It stands less than 5 inches and weighs about the same as a smartphone. It has a built in microphone and a large speaker on the back of the device that allows for clear loud sound, making it usable even in busy public places.

Tech Specs

MESAY needs to be connected to the internet to work properly; the WIFI settings are easy to access and it’s super straightforward to connect to a network. Though MESAY 2.0 has a built in 4GB memory and microSD slot that can accommodate up to 64GB, and allows you to use mobile data if you can’t find a hotspot.

I’m really excited about this feature, as it means you can purchase local sim cards for cheap data, and not have to worry about finding a WiFi hotspot to use the translator. The device supports 4G and allows you to create a WiFi hotspot if you want to.

The two-way translation allows you to quickly communicate between 2 languages and you have the ability to choose from 16 different common languages. These include:

Languages

➡ English

➡ Mandarin Chinese

➡ Cantonese

➡ Japanese

➡ Korean

➡ Thai

➡ Arabic

➡ Russian

➡ Spanish

➡ Vietnamese

➡ French

➡ German

➡ Portuguese

➡ Italian

➡ Dutch

➡ Greek

It has a helpful “Replay” button that allows you to repeat a question or comment with the click of a button if you didn’t hear it the first time. There’s also a new Group Chat feature that allows you to communicate with other Mesay users.

MESAY vs Translation Apps on Your Phone

There are countless translator apps out there, some good, some terrible. But apps have a tendency to chew up battery life quite quickly whereas this stand alone device provides hours of translation without requiring a recharge.

Trying to pack 100 different languages into an app takes up an enormous amount of memory, which not only wastes your battery, but also slows your phone down. And with phones powering many apps at the same time, battery consumption already tends to go down faster when you’re travelling.

Translation devices like MESAY are a good option as they are specifically designed for translating, and being its own device means a longer battery life. The battery fully charges in 4 hours and can last up to 72 hours on standby. You get around 6 hours of use out of it before it needs recharging, which is done via a power adapter and USB cable.

It is also easier to operate than many apps, allowing you to engage face to face with people as opposed to staring at your phone which can be rude and off putting.

Device size vs my phone

MESAY 2.0 - a portable language translation device

Things to Keep in Mind

In terms of learning curve, MESAY 2.0 comes with an English instruction manual which is straightforward and easy to use. While it’s not a touch screen, the buttons used to scroll through options are very easy to master, and you should be able to learn how the device works in less than 15 minutes.

Translation works well and very fast. Accurate translation does require you to speak clearly, so keep this in mind if you find yourself dealing with soft speakers or thick accents. Overall though, its translations are all pretty spot on.

As mentioned above, you must be connected to the internet for the translations to work. I recommend purchasing a local SIM card wherever you are visiting as you can input that into the device to access cheap data. Of course if WiFi is available free of charge, you can connect with that on your Mesay device.

The speaker on the back is excellent, and allows you to hear translations clearly even with a lot of background noise. Volume buttons are available on the side of the device if you need to make adjustments.

Conclusion

Whether you’re planning to move / study abroad, travelling for business meetings, or simply globetrotting, MESAY is an incredible device that comes in extremely handy. It’s especially useful for new expats who are just getting their bearings in their new home.

There will never be a replacement for actually learning a language, though as the world becomes more and more connected, a device like Mesay 2.0 is such a helpful tool that allows you to quickly and effectively communicate without having to learn complicated technology.

You can pre-order MESAY 2.0 now via their Kickstarter Campaign, or check out their website for more details.

The team behind MESAY believe that breaking down language barriers will lead to greater cross cultural understanding, and help in the efforts to achieve global peace, so for every purchase on their Kickstarter campaign, a 5% contribution will be donated to Save the Children, specifically to aid the victims of the war in Syria.

The kickstarter campaign only has 999 devices available. So make sure you don’t miss out! Order one now.

MESAY provided the MESAY 2.0 in advance of their Kickstarter campaign for us to review. As always, all opinions are our own. 

Preorder MESAY 

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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.

    

    44 Comments

  1. Brilliant Meg. Google Translate only goes so far. I learn a few basic words and phrases to get around in new lands but overall, having a translator tool is the way to go if you want to avoid tough situations. Aka, being stranded or lost somewhere without being able to say a word in the native tongue. I recall trying to communicate in Indonesian with a dude fixing my motorbike in Bali. Google Translate did OK, but methinks the bike was not entirely fixed LOL.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Ryan

    • Hopefully fixed enough that it was at least safe 😀 But yes, I love MESAY – it’s all well and good to laugh about the language barrier when we’re in situations which aren’t dire, but you really do need a reliable solution if you’re in a tough situation or emergency like you described.

      Glad we could introduce you to MESAY 🙂

  2. Wouldn’t that be nice to be though? I would settle for three. But since I am only great in one, I will check out the MESAY.

    • It’s so good having such an awesome cross section of common languages 🙂

  3. I was disappointed that there was no “politics” as a language choice. So, folks would really know what their politicians were telling them!

    • Haha wouldn’t that be nice!!

  4. In over 30 countries the only place I couldn’t make my language skills work was Turkey. Guess I’ll need one if I go back. 🙂

    • Sadly this device doesn’t support Turkish, but hopefully they’ll release more with new updates 🙂

    • @MegJerrard, telling the taxi driver yelling at me in Turkish that I don’t speak Turkish didn’t work because he didn’t speak English.

  5. WANT!

    • I know right! It’s a great device 🙂

  6. It could even help to learn it, perhaps?

    • Absolutely 🙂 especially I think for understanding it, getting the hang of speaking fluently is always a bit more difficult for me!

  7. Have you tried others? I need this for travel and for holidays with my partners family. My game of charades only gets me so far.

    • haha I know what you mean re charades! I’m a veteran lol. I’ve played around with a couple of apps before but this is the first translation device I’ve used 🙂

  8. WOW. We totally need that!

    • It’s a great device! I can highly recommend it 🙂

  9. What a clever idea!

    • Isn’t it! It’s a great device … I can highly recommend it 🙂

  10. Thank you! I may want this for Spanish and Japanese.

    • You’re welcome – hope you find it useful! Both Spanish and Japanese are supported, you can even do it from Spanish to Japanese if you want 😀

  11. Oh ! I do need it 😉

  12. I struggle so much with languages, what a great idea.

    • I struggle too! It’s such a life saver – makes life so much easier! Love it 🙂

  13. I only speak 3 though.

    • Nice! That’s two more than me haha 😀 The device translates between 16 different languages, so you have a large pool of languages you can translate between 🙂

  14. I don’t travel as much or as widely as you, but I kind of enjoy being in the middle of a country with no knowledge of the language.

    • It definitely makes it feel like a much more authentic experience when that’s the case 🙂

  15. I think I need one of these!

    • It’s a great device – definitely check out their kickstarter campaign 🙂

  16. Great device, very similar to what I can do with my phone, which has been super helpful.

    • Absolutely – there are some great phone apps out there too 🙂 The thing I love about having a separate device though is that it doesn’t run my phone battery down or make it start going super slow 🙂

  17. This is SO cool! I’d love to try it out!

    • Definitely check out their Kicktarter campaign 🙂

  18. Doesn’t Google translate do the same thing? I have used it in emergencies once or twice.

    • Google translate is great, though I personally like a device in it’s own right from the standpoint that apps run your phone battery down like crazy, and the memory capacity usually slows it down a lot. So I use this 🙂

  19. Wow! it looks cool indeed! You know, sometimes when I show someone the translation on my I-phone I just had to be careful so that they don’t just snatch my phone away.

    • That’s a good point too! I always like having a device like this because it doesn’t run down the battery on my phone, but I had never thought about increasing the likelihood of your phone being stolen – I think it’s far less likely to be targeted if you’re holding an unknown device like this instead 🙂

  20. Such a neat idea! And easy to carry around too.

    • Absolutely, it’s so portable it’s awesome!

  21. Cool to have all those languages at your disposal.

    • Absolutely Suze, it’s a lifesaver!

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