How I overcame language barrier while traveling

There’s this thing called Fluentalk T1



“Get a translator, duh?”

That’s probably what you’ll think of as a solution when it comes to overcoming language barriers while traveling in foreign countries.

In particular, traveling in Asia is challenging since the languages spoken are entirely different per country.

As much as any folks from the West would say that English is the universal language, it simply isn’t. If they believe that, they probably need to touch some grass and broaden their horizons.

Kidding aside, your smartphone might be handy. That is if you’re connected to the Internet or it still has a battery.

But when all else fails, you’re probably not keen on using a language dictionary as if it were the early 2000s. Having a portable translator that you can bring with you can be a game-changer.

Sometime in July, I brought the Fluentalk T1 translator device when I went to China. Thank heavens, I wasn’t like Emily Cooper from Emily in Paris — struggling with talking to locals due to her inability to speak French while in Paris.

Caution: Don’t fly out ill-prepared

Most of my friends believed in the power of their smartphones and Google Translate when entering a foreign country. Sadly, that wasn’t the case for me.

I wasn’t able to connect to the Airport WiFi. Also, I didn’t get to buy a SIM card right away so I didn’t have any data plan. There were no offline packages within the app, and it just won’t work. Simply put, I was ill-prepared for my trip. It was as if Mercury was retrograding. (But it’s not.)

My iPhone was basically useless when I traveled, except for having the important details of my connecting flights from Chengdu to Shenzhen.

Having the Fluentalk T1 as the last bastion of hope in a foreign country, the device surprisingly served me well.

When I was so confused with the airport signages and the airport staff at Chengdu International Airport didn’t know how to speak English let alone understand hand gestures, the Fluentalk T1 helped me not miss my flight.

One-click is all it takes

The Fluentalk T1 looks like an actual translator device, reminiscent of an old, fat iPod. It wasn’t intimidating at first sight, knowing that there were only three main buttons on its side. Plus, it’s a touchscreen running on Android and with WiFi and LTE connectivity.

With three main buttons that are color-coded, the device is easy to use, especially for the one-click translation feature. The yellow button serves as the power button, while the blue and red buttons are for translation.

The Blue button is for the language you’re speaking, English in my case, which gets translated into the language I need to speak. Meanwhile, the Red Button is used when the person you’re talking to needs to respond to your conversation.

There were a lot of times that I struggled using this one-click translation feature. The ill-prepared traveler in me forgot to download Chinese language packs so I could use the device offline.

By the power vested in me by the Internet, I can do it all

I had to rely on using the data and signal coming from my hotspot that was lent to me, in order to get my point across. Most days, the poor signal proved challenging to have a conversation with the locals. But when I was able to download the language packs, the experience was sweet.

Occasionally, the device picks up the wrong word through its microphone. When I was with my friend and freelance Japanese journalist Ayano Tominaga, it took a while for us to have a back-and-forth using the device since the Fluentalk T1 hears and translates a different word.

What I wish I had known earlier is that the Fluentalk T1 provides a free 2-year International unlimited data plan with its built-in e-sim. Just imagine: I had to carry three devices in my denim jacket. My iPhone, a dedicated Internet hotspot, and the Fluentalk T1.

I mean, the T1 could’ve done the job by becoming my hotspot. It has a 1500mAh battery that lasts more than a day since you don’t really use it to translate all the time. Had I known this sooner, I would’ve had a better experience at Chengdu Airport. Especially when I got lost and confused switching terminals.

Nevertheless, when you set it up right, the Fluentalk T1 can make your foreign trips smooth.

Scan, read, and have a conversation

But it’s not just the one-click translation that the Fluentalk T1 has. I mean, why buy a translator device if you have Google Translate to do it for you, right?

Of course, the device came with other handy features. One of which is the ability to scan the characters and translate them right away. It sort of works like Google Lens, except I didn’t need to connect to the Internet to have some words translated.

I practically used it when reading the labels of the food being served on the plane and the products I could find inside convenience stores. As someone with lots of dietary restrictions, I needed to be careful with what I eat especially when abroad. It helped me see the ingredients to realize which products I need to avoid.

Another feature is having pre-made messages that help in asking for directions and common expressions that cover different scenarios you’d probably encounter when traveling.

I didn’t get to use them, though it was a nice add-on just in case.

How many languages can you speak?

Currently, the T1 can translate over 40 languages and understand 93 accents when connected to the Internet. Some of these are Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, Icelandic, Greek, Bulgarian, Romanian, Slovenian, Slovak, Croatian, Czech, and Ukrainian.

It also understands Filipino, Malay, Indonesian, Vietnamese, and Thai. It’s a pretty helpful device if you decide to backpack across Southeast Asia.

Offline translation, on the other hand, can be only stored for 13 pairs. For instance, you can download language packs of English and get it translated to Chinese, Japanese, Korean, French, German, Spanish, and Russian.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The Fluentalk T1 portable translator retails for US$ 300 (buy here). It’s outright expensive that you can actually use the money to have a quick, budget-friendly trip somewhere in Southeast Asia. In the Philippines, that is already enough to visit and enjoy one of its beautiful islands for a weekend.

But if you’re a frequent flyer and you have a lot of money to shell out to make your experience worthwhile, the T1 is a traveler’s GadgetMatch. There’s value in its software features, and sometimes, it’s handy to not rely on your smartphone for everything — especially when traveling.

Soak in the sights and experience, folks. Go offline, be in the moment, and make new memories.


TP-Link Archer Air R5 and E5: For the minimalist

As sleek as they come



TP-Link R5 and E5

Don’t you just love it when certain tech around your home just blends in, not drawing any unnecessary attention to itself? That appears to be the primary design focus of the TP-Link Archer Air R5 and E5. It’s a Wi-Fi router and range extender combo. 


We unboxed the TP-Link Archer Air R5 and E5 (or just R5 and E5). Other than the flat, white units, you’ll see some documentation, cables, power adapter, and adhesives inside the box. 

Watch the unboxing.

@gadgetmatch Unboxing the TP-Link Archer Air R5 and E5! #router #rangeextender ♬ original sound – GadgetMatch

Understated and simple

TP-Link R5 and E5

Right off the bat, you’ll notice that there isn’t much to the R5 and E5, and that’s by the design. TP-Link specifically made this router and range extender combo to blend into your home. No antennas sticking out, just a couple of slabs that you can wall mount. 


Set-up is also just as simple as the devices look. You simply plug the adapter, hook it up to your modem using the included ethernet cable. We were ready to use the router in less than 10 minutes. 

TP-Link R5 and E5

One thing to note is that the cords of the power adapters are rather short. Same is true with the included ethernet cable which isn’t as much of an issue as the power adapters. This means you have to be a little creative with where you’ll place these. Depending on the power outlet situation in your home, you might have to buy a few new extension cords to achieve your preferred look. 

The E5 was a little more troublesome to set-up at first. But this was because we plugged it a few paces away from the R5. To avoid the hiccups we went through, make sure you set the E5 up right next to the R5. After the set-up, you can move the E5 to maximize its range-extending capabilities. From there, it’s all about just following the prompts on the Tether app.

Tether app

TP-Link R5 and E5

Yes, this router-range extender combo comes with an app. The Tether app is TP-Link’s own and is compatible with their devices. The app makes the set-up as breezy as possible. If you have any trouble setting things up, just simply follow the prompts and instructions on the app and you should be good to go. 

You can consider the app as your main hub for making the most of your R5 and E5. Here, you can make sure that the devices’ firmware are updated. You can also monitor all the gadgets connected to them. 

A neat feature is that you can create profiles in the app. Each profile assigns a role for traditional family members. This is a great tool for parents who want to limit the time and content that their children can access. 


TP-Link R5 and E5

The R5 and E5 are WiFi 6 capable. It’s tech that’s been around for about half a decade now but there’s still plenty who are missing out on its capabilities. For instance, most modems issued by local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are still a generation behind. 

With WiF 6 capable routers, you’re bound to experience a boost in speeds. Take us for instance, the service plan we’re subscribed to is supposed to max out at around 250 mbps. And multiple speed tests, when connected only directly to the modem, returned results that hover around 210 mbps for download speeds and  201 mbps upload speeds. 

After connecting to the R5, the speeds we were getting literally doubled. Tested multiple times in multiple days since setting up the router, we would average 413 mbps download speeds and 419 mbps upload speeds. We’re particularly happy about the upload speeds given that we do have to upload videos a lot these days. 

We didn’t particularly need the E5 since we live in a tiny apartment. But the extended range came in handy when we wanted to step outside and get some fresh air from the common area balcony. It’s a few paces away from our unit and was previously completely out of reach by our Wi-Fi. That isn’t the case anymore with the E5. 

The R5 and E5 have the OneMesh feature. What it does is seamlessly move the connection of your smartphone or laptop to the nearest Wi-Fi connection. This means uninterrupted browsing as you move around. 

Additional services 

The R5 is also compatible with the use of VPN or Virtual Private Networks. This helps shield your IP address and provides a generally more secure way to browse the Internet. Another benefit of VPN use is you can switch the location of your IP and gain access to streaming app content you otherwise would not have access to. 

For its part, TP-Link offers security services on the Tether app. We didn’t see the need to subscribe but it’s there as an option if you feel you need to add extra layers of protection. 

Is the TP-Link R5 and E5 your GadgetMatch? 

Truthfully, the TP-Link Archer Air R5 and E5 is easy to recommend. This Wi-Fi router and range extender combo is perfect for people who like their devices to be understated and simple. The size of this pair also means they’re easy to fit even in tiny living spaces. 

The R5 and E5 perform as advertised with TP-Link offering additional security options for your peace of mind. This is a perfect addition for any household looking to improve their Internet Connection without having to upgrade their ISP plan. 

The TP-Link R5 retails for PhP 6,590 while the TP-Link E5 retails for 5,590. 

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Leica virgin? Try the Xiaomi 13T Pro

Cameras powered by Leica



Xiaomi 13T Pro

Xiaomi is going all in on their partnership with Leica making it the headliner even in the “T” editions of their flagships. The company is flexing it even more with the Xiaomi 13T Pro and the Xiaomi 13T. 

The extra push is warranted. Just ask my colleague Vincenz who has refused to let go of the Xiaomi 13 ever since being handed the unit for review. Even myself was enamored with the photo-taking capabilities of the flagship released earlier this year. The thing made me look like a pro when I took it around Barcelona. 

The Xiaomi 13T Pro isn’t that much different. You still get to choose between Leica Authentic or Leica Vibrant when you first launch the camera app. Don’t fret though as the choice isn’t final. You can easily toggle the selection by tapping on the upper-right area of the screen when using the camera app. 

You also get the Leica custom photographic styles that add so much character to your shots when used appropriately. There’s plenty to choose from with the Leica BW NAT, F-50, and Gold Vibes being some of my personal favorites. 

But talk is cheap. So, enjoy some of these photos taken over the past few days. 

Leica Authentic




Photo-taking experience 

Xiaomi 13T Pro

You don’t have to think much when using the Xiaomi 13T Pro to take photos. Even after just a few days with it, I can say it delivers some of the best photos from the many smartphones I’ve tried this year.

It makes things easy too. The color science applied by Xiaomi and Leica does a lot of the heavy lifting. All you have to do is to learn how to compose better shots and you’ll look almost like a pro in no time. 

Incredibly smooth 

Xiaomi 13T Pro

One of the first things I noticed when I started using the Xiaomi 13T Pro is how incredibly smooth the display is. The 144Hz refresh rate on paper delivers without fail. It’s super evident especially since I’ve been splitting my time between this and another smartphone. Although, to be fair, that one’s an upper mid-ranger that doesn’t have this high of a refresh rate. 

It makes doom scrolling feel extra fine. Yes, the world is burning on the Internet but hey, you’re seeing it through a Full HD AMOLED Display that slides effortlessly each time you scroll. It’s all good. I guess. 


I also watched my fair share of short videos on this thing. Particularly, some fancams from TWICE’s Ready To Be Tour that happened over the weekend in Bangkok. I’ve yet to watch any HDR-capable content, but I can say the general viewing experience is enjoyable. It helps that the speakers aren’t too shabby either. The sound is clean and does not distort even when pushed to maximum. 

The audio was enjoyable too when listening to my favorite tracks. One night I put Yena’s “Love War” on repeat and I was jamming to it until I fell asleep. I also listened to some of my favorite hoop podcasts on the Xiaomi 13T Pro. And well, no complaints here. I got my NBA fix through The Lowe Post and The Hoop Collective all while playing them on the phone.

Battery and charging

Xiaomi 13T Pro

It’s only been a few days so I can’t say anything definitive here. Plus, my usage varied so much and I haven’t been keeping track of it completely. I can say I felt the 5,000mAh capacity drained faster than I expected, especially after a night of intense doom scrolling. 

However, topping it up was fast and easy. With 32% left, I watched a couple of anime episodes on TV and found the thing already fully charged after. 

Between upper-midrange and flagship build

The unit we have in particular is the Meadow Green that has a glossy finish. And while it’s slightly heavier than its Alpine Blue sibling, it still felt so much lighter than what I’m used to using. For context, I rock an iPhone 14 Pro Max, Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, and HONOR Magic5 Pro when I’m not reviewing a smartphone. 

I’m personally not a fan of the glossy finish and that’s a fact for any smartphone. It’s not completely a smudge magnet but you’re probably better off using a case with this one. I’ve been rocking it in its birthday suit since it feels tough enough on its own. But if you’re forking out your hard earned cash on a smartphone, my general advice is to always use protection. 

Experience Leica 

Xiaomi 13T Pro

The main draw of the Xiaomi 13T Pro, without a doubt, is how it lets you experience a Leica camera without it costing you an arm and a leg. We all know how expensive Leica cameras are but Xiaomi is giving you the chance to experience it at a fraction of the cost. Now, I’m not saying you get the exact same photo quality. But output-wise, this is about as close as you’re going to get. 

Elsewhere, the Xiaomi 13T Pro is also a winner. The silky smooth display catches your attention immediately, and its general size and overall build makes you feel secure. You just have this peace of mind that what you’re holding is made with care and won’t break easily. There’s also something about it that’s hard to describe or quantify. You just know, you’re using a device that’s better than most.

Xiaomi 13T Pro Specs

Display — 6.67″ FHD CrystalRes AMOLED display. Up to 144Hz refresh rate, Pro HDR, Dolby Vision, HDR10+
Processor — MediaTek Dimensity 9200+
RAM+ Storage — 12GB+256GB, 12GB+512GB, 16GB+1TB
Battery and Charging — 5,000mAh, Xiaomi 120W HyperCharge
OS — MIUI 14 based on Android 13
Connectivity — Dual SIM, Wi-Fi7, NFC9, Bluetooth 5.4, 5G


24mm Leica main camera

  • 50MP wide angle camera
  • 1/1.28” sensor size
  • 1.22μm pixel size, 2.44μm 4-in-1 Super Pixel
  • f/1.9, 7P aspherical lens, OIS
  • Supports HDR10+ video recording for up to 4K at 30fps
  • Supports 8K video recording at 24fps
  • 10-bit LOG video recording, supports LUT import

50mm Leica telephoto camera

  • 50MP
  • f/1.9, 5P aspherical lens

15mm Leica ultra-wide camera

  • 12MP
  • f/2.2, 5P aspherical lens

20MP front camera

  • f/2.2, 5P aspherical lens
  • Night mode
  • Portrait mode
  • HDR

Price and availability

The Xiaomi 13T Pro retails for PhP 37,999 for the 12GB+512GB variant and PhP 39,999 for the 16GB+1TB variant.

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Apple Watch Series 9 + Watch Ultra 2 Unboxing

Featuring the bundled bands plus the new FineWoven and Nike Sport bands



Apple’s September 2023 “Wonderlust” Event isn’t just about the new iPhones. They’ve also announced updates to the well-loved Apple Watch Series 8 and Watch Ultra.

The Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 may not look so different from their predecessors, but the new features cater to older Apple Watch users to upgrade.

Aside from the upgraded S9 SiP (System in a Chip), this also enables new features like having a built-in Siri and even Double Tap using your two fingers and wrist.

And thanks to Apple’s Carbon Neutral goal by 2030, the new Apple Watches (at least the Ultra 2 and aluminum-cased Series 9s) are now more sustainable for the environment.

This also means saying bye-bye to our good ol’ leather Watch bands — but wait until you see what Apple has to offer.

Watch our latest unboxing of the new Apple Watch Ultra 2, Apple Watch Series 9 (in Aluminum and Stainless Steel), plus a plethora of bands to try out!

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