Linguatec Personal Translator 2008 is well-featured translation software capable of working smoothly with web-pages, documents and PDF files.

It might take us microseconds to connect with a computer on the other side of the world, but making quick contact with whoever's on the other end of the keyboard could be another matter entirely.

Even for English users (far more web pages and documents are, after all, written in English than in any other language), there are countless times when a conversation or search has been struck down in its prime due to an inability to speak somebody else's language.

And while OCR software continues to get plenty of attention, translation tools have remained something of a joke. Recently we've looked at two brand new market releases - Linguatec Personal Translator 2008 and Babylon 7.0 – to see if translation software is finally ready to make it to the big time. Here's our verdict on Linguatec Personal Translator 2008.

The lengthy installation time of Linguatec Personal Translator 2008 should immediately tip you off that this is a comprehensive package. Linguatec has apparently made great strides in its native Germany, but only now is the company launching its first major assault on the UK market.

Linguatec Personal Translator 2008 actually comes in six different flavours. These range from Home to Advanced and Professional editions. To be honest, even the Home version feels handsomely featured, although the Advanced edition does have a larger dictionary and a 'Neural Transfer' facility that does a better job of working out the context of each word (more about that later).

The Professional version of Linguatec Personal Translator 2008 is capable of reading text aloud. The three versions will set you back £40, £80 and £180 for a single language pair (English/German, English/French etc.), although for double the price you can buy World Editions which offer pairs using all available languages - French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Chinese. Most of the emphasis is on translation between English and one of the other languages, and German/French is the only pairing that doesn't involve English.

Most traditional translation packages translate passages word for word. Linguatec Personal Translator 2008 uses the example of the German phrase 'gleich geht es los' being translated as 'equal goes it loose'.

Alternatively, is the word 'coach' referring to a vehicle or a trainer?

Linguatec Personal Translator 2008 looks at surrounding words and takes an educated guess at what the sentence is referring to. Colloquialisms are deftly handled, with many local phrases being translated into something that might be understood by a foreign audience.

In addition, Linguatec Personal Translator 2008 looks for any typos and corrects them before going ahead with the translation. Linguatec still recommends that you take the time to 'prepare' your text before submitting it, but it was noticeable in testing that Personal Translator made a solid job of converting material.

NEXT PAGE: the program in use and our expert verdict > >

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