Power Translator Pro 8 - PC review

Power Translator Pro 8 boasts that it will deliver all of your translation needs, back and forth, between English and six other languages (French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Russian).

There are also four separate “Vocabulary Block dictionaries” for when you need rapid access to specialist descriptions for business, computing, legal or medical terms. The general method of operation involves transposing the original language text into columns of varying size (or the entire window for translating whole websites), choosing your chosen destination language, then letting the program get on with your translation.

The smallest and the largest applications will probably get the most attention out of the four sections. Logotrans, featuring two window panels on top of each other, puts the starting language at the top with a white background and target translation language below, from any selection of text, with a grey background instead. After this you can add your own text in the language you understand and it will dynamically update the translated copy.

Translation Mirror is certainly the best application for the modern internet. Fire up the site to be translated, start this application, pick the destination language, and it will translate the original page with a higher degree of accuracy than Google's attempts when you search and come across sites not written in your mother tongue.

We're not ignoring Transit, which will cover the short postings that occur with Internet Relay Chat (IRC) or instant messaging applications, nor FileTrans, which will translate the contents of HTML and other files. Both are similarly effective, especially the latter on web pages you've already saved, but we can see Translation Mirror allowing people a transient glimpse at pages they want to see in another language. The killer application is allowing the browsing on the fly of a single site once the Translation mirror has done its work. As an A-Level student in French and German I was taught some new terms but there was the odd literal translation where a dictionary would have had a better turn of phrase. There were also some web elements like scrolling news tickers and advertisements that wouldn't translate but your essential text is what matters- plus you're not spending £65 on this package to learn slang.

Translation speed is dependent on your computer, but a PIII/733 with 512MB RAM took 1-2 minutes to load in and translate new pages. On the AMD 1.5GHz 1800+ with 768Mb RAM that was cut to under a minute. On broadband your lightning-fast page switching will be curtailed depending on how much translated surfing is intended and your computing power It's unlikely you'll want to browse like this all the time, but the package will just sit on your machine, also plugged into Microsoft Word, letting you translate from just one word to pages and pages of information. However it's all this recognition and calculation power that demands over half a gigabyte of hard drive space on installation.

This package succeeds in its intentions, and with five European and one Cyrillic Eastern European language on offer, is aimed at a very wide target market (eg the Spanish set also seeing potential use in America). It depends how many languages you speak as well- if you are relearning your school languages and adding a third like Spanish/Italian, this is worth the money as a kick start to your progress.

Verdict

In spite of achieving its aims, £65 would probably buy you three sub-encyclopaedia-sized hardback dictionaries in your languages of choice, and, combining these with ALT number codes to get the correct accents, this could be easier for close study than using your PC. If you don't see yourself using more than two languages in the package then stick to the Learning Zone, newspapers and dictionaries where £65 will go further. If the street price ever drops by at least £10, then it can certainly return to the shortlist for casual learners.