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5 Google Pixel Buds alternatives: Real-time translations

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When the Google Pixel Buds were announced, the reaction was along the lines of: “Google’s Pixel Buds translation will change the world.” But, the first thing I thought was, I wonder how it compares to what’s already out there?

I’m a native English speaker, who doesn’t have the best nack for languages. I also live in Taiwan which is a Chinese-speaking country, and I run a German-language website. There is no one more ready for a real-life Bable fish than I am.

Before I head into the Pixel Bud Alternatives, let’s take a quick look at the device that’s turning heads.

Google Pixel Buds

The Pixel Buds are neck buds, not truly wireless earbuds.

To start a translation, you hold your finger down to the earbud and say, “Help me speak French,” and speak a phrase. When you lift your finger, the Translate app speaks and displays your translation. Then, the person you’re speaking to holds a button down on your phone and says their reply, which you hear in your ear.

I’m a little dubious that this is any more convenient than just passing your phone back and forth and doing everything there, but it’s nice that only one set of translations is done over the phone’s speaker. A fairly natural voice does the translation, which is a step up from what we currently hear through Google Translate. This isn’t real time, but it’s very fast.

It doesn’t work offline and the Pixel Buds will eventually be able to translate between 40 languages, but so far, it only translates Japanese.

Google says they should last about five hours on a charge; the case can charge them four times.

I found even more offline translators at StartUp LaunchPad. Found at the Global Sourcing Fair, StartUp Launchpad is a Hong Kong Conference that showcases brand new startups looking for distributors. This happens twice a year and Mobile Geeks has made a habit of attending since it gives a sneak peek at the technology trends that are coming out of China to the rest of the world.

Le Trans

Le Trans is about the size of a bar of soap and can translate 29 languages, which is a lot of combinations! They’re mostly using Google’s translation library but have added in a few others, as well. You use an app to select which languages are being translated but it doesn’t work offline, meaning it’s not a great solution if you’re traveling.

LeTrans will be launching on Kickstarter in December with a shipping date for sometime in 2018. I did get to go hands-on, but the sample wasn’t working, so I’m reserving judgment on this until I have working samples and a price point.

Travis the Translator

Travis launched on Indegogo back in April and raised US$ 1.63 million in funding. Travis can translate 80 languages, 20 of which work offline. It’s not a headset like the Pixel Buds; it’s a MiFi-like pod that has a built-in speaker and headphone jack, so you can plug in your own.

Travis works for up to 12 hours and uses AI to become more intelligent. It works to understand your accent better and provide more accurate translations taking context into account. As you see in the video above, you can just place Travis between you and carry on a normal conversation. You have to wait for the translation to be read out, but it’s very fast and natural.

Travis doesn’t provide a full list of what translation engines they’re using but claims the best translation engine for each language is different, which is why they are using so many solutions. This makes Travis more interesting than Pixel Buds, which as far as I know, just uses Google Translate.

You can pick up Travis for US$ 169 plus shipping through their Indiegogo campaign, but the price will rise to US$ 229 when they go on sale. Travis is meant to ship towards the end of November to current backers and be ready for the market in the winter of 2017.

So far, I think that Travis offers the most interesting solution for a live translation device. For a full list of all 80 languages, visit their website.

Pilot Translating Earpiece

Pilot fits into your ear, offers live translation of 15 languages, and will stream music, take calls, deliver notifications, or act as your phone’s personal assistant. You can share the earpiece with the person you’re having the conversation with so you can both have a translation device. I have strong feelings against sharing my earbuds with a stranger, so it’s a good thing that you can use the Pilot app on the phone to listen and translate.

Currently, Pilot is not available offline, but they’re planning on adding it later. You’re also dependent on using the app for translation and the app will be available for free in November so you can download it to find out if it’s any good.

Pre-orders of the Pilot Translating Earpieces start at US$ 249 (US$ 299 when it goes on sale) and come with free access to Latin/romance languages (French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, along with English). However, adding more languages like Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, German, Greek, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Russian, Turkish, etc. will cost you more.

Ili Wearable Translator

Ili can be worn around your neck or simply held in your hand and pointed at people’s faces, like in the video above. Ili is around the same size as your phone, but it’s not as wide. It doesn’t offer instant translation and has 0.2 seconds of delay.

Ili isn’t a universal translator — it’s travel-focused — so this is the context of the content it has available. Due to its limited size and the fact that it’s offline, it essentially holds a translation dictionary.

That said, there is quite a lot encompassed in the travel: “Ili is here to help you when it comes to dining, shopping, finding transportation, and much more,” according to the company. If you believe their YouTube channel, these are quite a lot of scenarios.

The biggest issue/disappointment is that Ili is one way — one language to another, not back again. Forget having a conversation, Ili claims that its goal is to help you be understood by others. Understanding what’s being said to you will have to wait for another version.

Ili has support for three languages from English, meaning English to Spanish, Mandarin, or Japanese and two languages from Chinese.

Bragi Dash Pro

Bragi Dash Pro is currently available and Mobile Geeks has reviewed it. Though I can’t say we were impressed with the performance, I’m hopeful it’ll improve.

All you need to do to have a conversation with someone who speaks another language is throw Dash Pro earbuds in, and you’ll instantly be able to understand someone who’s speaking in one of 40 foreign languages.

The problem is that there’s no compelling reason to use the Dash Pro for translation, unless both people in the conversation are using the earbuds. You can’t hand one earbud off to the other person so they can also benefit from the translator. If the other person doesn’t have their own pair of headphones, you still have to hold your phone out so that the person you’re talking to has a microphone to talk into and a speaker to hear your own words translated into their language. Otherwise, they’d have to talk directly into your ear, and they wouldn’t get your voice translated back into their language. At that point, it’s far easier for you to both speak into — and hear translations from — the same device.

The earbuds act as an accessory for an app called iTranslate, which already claims five million monthly active users and is one of the more high-rated translation apps in both the Apple Store and on Google Play.


This article originally appeared on Mobile Geeks. Nicole Scott, who was GadgetMatch’s companion and guide to its very first StartUp Launch Pad experience, shared her experience on the bi-annual conference at the Global Sourcing Fair in Hong Kong. 

SEE ALSO: Ideebank Mic is a portable karaoke machine

SEE ALSO: Nemonic mini printer prints sticky notes, doesn’t need ink!

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realme Buds Air Pro now in the Philippines

Affordable TWS earbuds with ANC

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realme’s commitment to expanding its AIoT lineup is on full display with the announcement of the realme Buds Air Pro in the Philippines.

realme says it reduces noise by 35dB due to the dual microphone setup and the customized S1 noise cancellation chip. It also has Transparency mode that lets you hear ambient sound in one click. It also supports Bluetooth 5.0.

These earbuds sport a 10mm driver for Dynamic Bass Boost (DBB). This means you’re getting a deep, rich base sound with these earbuds. As for playback, you get a total of 25 hours with the charging case.

It also offers low latency of 94ms in Gaming mode for perfect sync between video and audio while playing games or watching movies.

Controls are as follows:

  • Double-tap: Play/pause music playback | Answer a call
  • Triple-tap: Go to next song
  • Press and hold one side: End call
  • Press and hold both sides: Enter/Exit Gaming Mode

Pricing and availability

The realme Buds Air Pro retails for PhP 4,990. However, it can be had for PhP 3,990 on Lazada and Shopee starting December 3, 7PM and at the 12.12 Super Brand Day Sale.

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Xiaomi launches 5000mAh ZMI Power Bank, it’ll also warm your hands

Winter is coming…

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ZMI is one of Xiaomi’s ecosystem companies, and it is popular for making professional power banks. Xiaomi also sells power banks directly, and they’re in extremely high demand due to consistent quality, features, and affordable price.

Now, the brand is trying to do something new — a power bank that’ll also double up as a body or hand warmer more precisely. So, the power bank has a capacity of 5000mAh, enough for an iPhone once. If you’re living in the temperate or tundra region, the climate gets extremely cold during the winters. The gadget can also be used as a hand warmer.

It’s equipped with a PTC self-limiting temperature heating technology that’s patented and safe. The power bank consists of PID constant temperature control for precise control of the heating element. It can go up to 52-degrees Celsius, which is safe and comfortable for the human body.

The ZMI Power Bank can adjust the temperature according to your liking and deliver two to four hours of heating in one go. It has an LED light that can be used as a torch for convenience, and it can charge all gadgets like an ordinary portable charger.

For now, the sale is limited to Mainland China, and it costs CNY 89 (US$ 13.5).

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Huawei Freebuds Pro Unboxing and First Impressions

Sounds as good as it looks

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Huawei has been killing it in the personal audio department and everyone should really start paying attention. Adding to the lineup is the Huawei Freebuds Pro. It’s their answer of sorts to the likes of the AirPods Pro and the Sony WF-1000XM3.

This is what the front of the box looks like. It’s a pretty tiny box.

Freebuds Pro

A closer look shows the name of the product in gold. 

Flip it over and you’ll see some highlighted features. 

Take out the top cover and you’re immediately greeted by the Freebuds Pro. 

Here’s a look without the plastic covering.

Freebuds Pro

It’s a little tricky to take out but underneath all that is the USB to USB-C Cable and a box.

Pull out the cable and the box and you get this.

Here’s a closer look at the cable. 

And here are extra soft silicone plugs so you can find the perfect fit for your ears.

Now, let’s go back to the Freebuds Pro. Here’s the back of the charging case with the Huawei text. 

You flip it over to open it and reveal the earbuds. 

The buds are tinier — the tiniest they’ve released over the past year.

On the bottom of the case is the USB-C port. 

And on its right side is the bluetooth pairing button. 

But if you simply open the case next to a Huawei phone — here it’s the Huawei Mate 40 — it’ll immediately detect it and ask to pair. 

When you press connect, it’ll show you right away how to operate the Freebuds Pro. 

After that, it’ll show you the battery life of each Freebud Pro and the case. 

As mentioned earlier, in terms of the size of the stem, it’s a lot smaller than the previous two releases. 

The cases also vary in shape and size.

Here’s what they look like when worn. 

First impressions 

I’ve only had the Freebuds Pro for a little over 24 hours at the time of writing. I’ve since used it on a video call meeting and to listen to the Eyes Wide Open album by TWICE.

I Cant Stop Me GIF by TWICE - Find & Share on GIPHY

So far, it’s performing exactly as advertised. It carries over the noise-cancellation excellence from the Freebuds 3 and Freebuds 3i. In fact, the Freebuds Pro combines the best practices of the aforementioned devices thanks to a number of engineering and design choices.

Sound quality is also right around what I expected based on my previous experiences with other Huawei audio products. It’s certainly two steps above the Freebuds 3i in terms of overall sound quality.

SEE ALSO: Freebuds 3 review | Freebuds 3i review

Music comes off as crisp and clean as the Freebuds 3 but we’ll have to try it out for a little longer for a more definitive take. Same goes for the battery life.

The controls are also more intuitive. If you are coming from the Freebuds 3, it is a little different. Here’s a photo of me assuming the controls are the same. Nope, I didn’t pay attention to the prompts during set-up. What an idiot.

Price and availability 

In the Philippines, it retails for PhP 7,999 — around PhP 1,000 cheaper than the launch price of the Freebuds 3 (PhP 8,990).

Pre-order period is from November 27 to December 3. If you pre-order you’ll get freebies worth PhP 3,989.

  • Huawei Band 4 — PhP 1,890
  • Entertainment Gift Package — PhP 2,099

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