A couple years back I was lucky enough to take a trip to Italy (and hope to again, if this). It was breathtaking, but the language barrier did make things difficult at times. How I wish I'd had a Pocketalk in my pocket. This insanely convenient device allows for fast and easy translation of 74 different languages in over 120 countries.
It originally sold for $300, but for a limited time, and while supplies last, you can get the. That's the lowest price to date. (The last time I wrote about it, just a few months back, it was $149.) It's available in your choice of black or gold. (If Amazon happens to sell out, that sale price is -- where you can also find a white version.)
Unlike some translators, the Pocketalk Classic doesn't rely on your phone. It's a standalone device with its own touchscreen, one that makes for easy setup and language selection. (The onscreen keyboard is pretty tiny, so it can be a hassle to enter, say, a Wi-Fi network password, but you probably won't need to use it often.)
The Pocketalk does require a data connection. If there's no Wi-Fi available, no problem. The unit comes with a global SIM card and two years of unlimited data. (After that, data will cost you a reasonable $50 a year.) It charges via USB-C and has a battery that can easily last a full day.
Once you're connected, you simply choose your two languages. Then you hold down one button and start talking. Release the button and presto, instant spoken-aloud translation. (It also appears onscreen.) The other person holds down the other button, speaks, releases. Presto, you've got English (or whatever is your preferred language).
In my quick, informal tests of the device, I was thoroughly impressed at how well it turned my spoken words into French (and back again; I still remember a bit of what I learned in high school). CNET hasn't reviewed it, so I'll turn you over to ZDNet's Pocketalk Classic review. Its rating: 9.2 out of 10.
Now for the key question: Why this instead of, say, Google Translate, which is free and available for both Android phones and iPhones? And what about the ? Those are great options, no question, though Apple's translator is limited to only about a dozen languages, at least for now. But Google Translate is hard to beat, with support for over 100 languages and an offline mode that works with nearly 60 of them.
One point in the Pocketalk's favor: It has dual noise-canceling microphones, so it might do a better job in noisy environments. There's also something to be said for a dedicated device, one that doesn't put additional strain on your phone's battery, use additional data and so on. It's just really cool, too.
Originally published earlier this year. Updated to reflect new pricing. Removed expired bonus deal.
CNET's Cheapskate scours the web for great deals on tech products and much more. For the latest deals and updates, follow him on Facebook and Twitter. You can also sign up for deal texts delivered right to your phone. Find more great buys on the CNET Deals page and and check out our CNET Coupons page for the latest Walmart discount codes, eBay coupons, Samsung promo codes and even more from hundreds of other online stores. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Answers live on our .