Simultaneous Mode (Simul Mode) is the much flaunted hands-free, bi-directional simultaneous interpretation that Timekettle is working to perfect. In this mode, each person wears an earbud and speaks in their own language. Timekettle translates what one person is saying and transmits it into the earbud of the other person. This mode is primarily for business scenarios or other situations in which a long, in-depth conversation will need to be continuously translated for a long time.
In this mode, both users can expect a translation within 3 seconds so they must be prepared to pause after they are done talking. While Simul Mode is very useful, there is an “unnatural” feel to a conversation when both people must intermittently pause. We found this mode to be most useful for chats among friends and family of different languages, but not necessarily for a business negotiation or an hour-long conversation.
Touch Mode allows the user to control what the WT2 Edge picks up and translates. In this mode, you tap the earbud, speak, and then tap again to finish. Timekettle then immediately processes the translation and plays it into the earbuds of the listeners. This mode is most useful in noisy environments, or situations in which there are multiple people using the WT2 Edge (such as a large business meeting.)
Although the touch mode requires the user to manually start and stop the translation process, we found it the most intuitive, as both users have a clear indication of when the other is done talking. It is also calming to know that the earbuds are not continuously translating and that you can choose when to start and stop the translation process.
Speaker Mode allows the user to simply wear an earbud and use their smartphone for translating. Speaking into the earbud will allow the Timekettle App to translate your message and play it back on your smartphone for the other person to hear. This mode is intended for quick questions and exchanges, such as ordering food or asking for directions.
Speaker Mode is similar to other translation Apps and relies on one or more people to speak into your smartphone. It is most ideal for someone who may be travelling in another country and having a quick conversation.
Listen Mode uses the smartphone to continuously pick up and translate sentences into the earbud. This is a one-way translation mode intended for speeches and teaching.
We found Listen mode to be useful for a variety of applications, such as learning a new cooking recipe or attending a conference. Here, the speed of the translation is not as big of a factor and the App also saves the entire script for review. One thing to note is that in listen mode the speaker will have to be very close your smartphone in order for the App to pick up the sentences for translation.
In conclusion, Timekettle’s WT2 Edge Translator Earbuds are a great translation tool with spot on accuracy in daily conversation and very user friendly, with four different modes to allow users to fine tune their translating experience. The Timekettle requirement to require users to buy additional languages for offline support is a bit of a miss, but with internet access readily available all over the world one can easily ignore offline support and still get all the benefits of the Timekettle’s translation services. At $299, the Timekettle earbuds are useful for someone who regularly finds themselves in need of translating long conversations but perhaps not for a world traveler who may need a quick translation when ordering coffee or looking for the nearest subway.