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Chrome 4.1: Bienvenue to auto-translate

Google has released a new beta version of its Chrome browser, which features the ability to translate foreign pages instantly, without having to use Google Translate

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Luke Westaway

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Google has unveiled version 4.1 of its increasingly wunderbar Chrome Web browser. Chrome 4.1 is currently in beta and features a buono new translate feature, which automatically zaps foreign Web pages into something insular rosbifs like us can understand.

We revved up Chrome and took this new feature for a test drive to see how it handled some intense translational action. Along the way we learned that no matter how hard you try, you can't make browsers sound as exciting as cars.

Read on to discover our findings, or find them for yourself by downloading Chrome 4.1 here.

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We headed over to Amazon.de -- a linguistically impenetrable fortress of affordable books and DVDs. When Chrome detects that you're visiting a Web site in a foreign tongue you'll see this drop-down bar appear, asking if you'd like to translate the page. If Chrome has incorrectly guessed the page's language you have the option to change it before translating.
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Once you hit translate the page springs into legible type. After translation, the drop-down bar hangs around to make sure you're happy with your language choices. As you can see from this review of the film District 9, translations are usually a little inaccurate, and often unintentionally hilarious. Nevertheless, it's no worse than other translation software we've seen, and it's usually possible to at least get the gist of what you're reading. You can check an option to set Chrome to always translate from one language into another. For example, if you find yourself browsing a lot of Spanish Web pages, you can set all Spanish pages to translate into English automatically, saving you a few seconds each time.
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One problem with the translate feature is that it's only able to convert standard text -- here you can see that while most of Samsung's Japanese Web site has been translated, those large buttons remain in Japanese. Any text based in Flash won't translate, and any text that's part of an image will remain in its native language. As many sites use images as links to navigate their sites, this can make finding your way around a foreign site incredibly difficult.

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