People who often find themselves undertaking research in a library or museum could well encounter a text written in a language different to their own. While online translation solutions are now readily available, retyping the troublesome word, phrase or page onto a smartphone using a virtual keyboard can quickly become a tiresome task. The Quicktionary TS Premium from Wizcom Technologies allows the user to scan the text into the device and a built-in word and phrase dictionary offers up the translation on the included screen. The pen-like device also has a built-in speaker to help those who want to learn how to pronounce the scanned word or line of text.

Scanning pen manufacturer Wizcom Technologies has developed its handheld scanning translators to help people working in multilingual environments, and its latest device has a 128 pixel linear array optical scanning head at 400 DPI resolution, a 5-way navigation button and is powered by an 80Hz ARM 7 Thumb/Debug/Multiplier/ICE (TDMI) processor. Its five line, monochrome, 2.4 x 0.8-inch (61 x 20mm), 208 x 65 pixel resolution LCD touchscreen display offers either abridged or complete definition/translation and includes a virtual keyboard for manual input using the included stylus.

The combined dictionary and scanner is said to offer immediate word-by-word translation, can handle single words or a full line of text and includes slang, idioms, phrases and inflections. The proprietary optical character recognition algorithm engines can cope with different fonts and text sizes and 45 languages are now supported, including American and British English, French, German, Spanish, Russian and a recent addition, Hebrew. Over 300,000 words and expressions are available in each dictionary.

The new handheld scanning translator is powered by two AAA batteries, has a socket for 4, 8 or 16MB flash cards and can be customized by using a special extension card called a Wizcard - to add dictionaries in a different language for instance. Audio pronunciation assistance via a built-in speaker or earphone jack, should you need it, and the device can also work as a normal text scanner, allowing users to transfer everything it's rolled over onto a Windows PC.

The Quicktionary TS Premium is available now, prices start at a suggested retail of US$289.95.