Langogo Is the Perfect Pocket-sized Language Translator for Travelers

Remember those old-school TVs in the 80s with the built-in VCR? Inevitably, the VCR was always some off-brand model that stopped working after three months, leaving you with an oversized mediocre television with a bolted-on, non-functioning slot to store your morning toast.

This is how I’ve always felt about combination devices. More often than not, they’re good — but not great — at doing one thing and entirely mediocre at several other things.

So, I admit that I was skeptical about the new Langogo AI-Powered Language Translator. It’s a unique, multipurpose device that promises travelers a few very useful things. Namely: near-real-time language translation and global Wi-Fi hotspot connectivity.

Few companies have been able to deliver on even the second most interesting feature: global Wi-Fi. (Thus far, Google’s Project Fi has been the only provider to deliver comprehensive, seamless, and rock solid service in this department). So I was skeptical Langogo could deliver on that and simultaneously turn me into a polyglot overnight.

In short: they’re promising a tall order. But, I was intrigued, so they sent me a review unit to see what I thought.

Langogo AI-powered Language Translator Review

Langogo - Portable AI-powered Language Translator

Langogo – Portable AI-powered Language Translator

The Skinny

In the brand’s own words, Langogo is:

Made for global travelers. Langogo accurately translates speeches between 60 languages in less than 1 second and helps you stay connected to global Wi-Fi anytime and anywhere, bringing you a world of conversations at your fingertips. With its AI-voice assistant by your side, you will be ready to go out and speak out loud!

So, how’s it stack up?

The Traveler’s Take

Design & Durability

Langogo Language Translator (box)

Langogo Language Translator

From the packaging to the device itself, it’s clear that serious thought was put into Langogo’s design. The stark white, minimalist packaging even steals clear inspiration from Apple’s playbook. The unit itself is sleek, compact, well-built, and sturdy to hold — not unlike a high-end smartphone. No surprise really as it’s made from many of the same materials as today’s best phones including polycarbonate and shatter-resistant Asahi glass.

The company also touts a number of stress tests that their design has passed including:

  • Screen press test: 2,000 times
  • Screen scratch test: 1,000 times
  • Freefall test: 750 times
  • Function button test: 100,000 times

While we’re not in the habit of torture-testing our gear here at VagabondishHQ, the unit feels solid and very well-built. So, we have no doubt that it’s designed to take a beating.

Langogo Language Translator (closeup)

Langogo Language Translator

Functionality

We’re fast approaching a world where it won’t matter what language you, as a traveler, speak. We started with clunky language-to-language translation dictionaries, then moved on to slightly less clunky language-to-language translation apps. Now, Langogo is one of only a few companies looking to take the next step forward. Its biggest selling point is near-real-time language translation.

Imagine sitting in a Parisian cafe where you casually place the unit on the table in front of you. When the waiter/waitress comes to your table, you place your order in English and Langogo automatically “speaks” your order out loud in French. The server jots down your order, responds in French, and you hear their reply spoken aloud in English. The translation process is almost entirely seamless, requiring less than a second. A dedicated noise-canceling chip helps filter out up to 30% of background noise and ensure better sound quality.

By connecting with the world’s largest language database (including 24 translation engines), Langogo currently supports more than 60 languages. These include the most common like Spanish, French (both Canadian and France dialects), and German, as well as more obscure languages like Turkish, Norwegian, and Tamil. Because all of the translation is handled by a remote server, new languages can easily be added in the future without needing to update your actual Langogo device.

I’m a hands-on gadgeter, preferring to skip the instruction manual and start fiddling with new toys right away. This is often a good test of how intuitive a product actually is. In this respect, Langogo fares very well. Physical buttons are limited to a power button, a translation button, and a volume rocker. Everything else is handled via the capacitive touchscreen which I found to be easy to read and very responsive.

Other Features

Because the unit relies on intelligent AI-powered translation, it does require an internet connection. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that the device itself is a global Wi-Fi hotspot. Not only does it provide the necessary connection for the translation functionality, but it supports a total of six additional connected devices. This works in 72 countries without the need for a physical SIM card as it instead relies on eSim technology. Just switch on Langogo and it automatically connects to the best local cell network.

Pricing + Availability

Crowdfunded gadgets are always a gamble. Without thoroughly vetting each project — and who has the time for that? — it’s impossible to know when or if you’ll see a return on your investment. The good news for anyone interested in Langogo is that (as of this publication) the project passed 850% funding on its meager goal of just $10,000. What’s more: it’s already in production.

Langogo is expected to retail for around USD $230 when it goes on sale later this year. Early birds investing in the current Indiegogo project can score a discounted unit for just $159.

The Bottom Line

With a sleek, durable design, simple, user-friendly interface, and an affordable price point, Langogo delivers on its promises as both a language translator and a global Wi-Fi hotspot. For these reasons, we highly recommend it.

The post Langogo Is the Perfect Pocket-sized Language Translator for Travelers appeared first on Vagabondish.

Why Fi? I Cut My International Wireless Bill in Half by Switching to Google Project Fi

The Verdict
The Bottom Line
Although the phone selection is limited, the phenomenal global coverage, great customer support, and simple, affordable pricing structure make Project Fi the best, most convenient wireless carrier for international travelers.
The Good
Worldwide coverage (170+ countries)
Excellent customer + tech support
Straightforward, affordable pricing
Seamless Wi-Fi-to-cellular switching
Free, unlimited data after 6GB
No charge for tethering
Only pay for the data you use
4G LTE speeds in 135+ countries
The Bad
Limited phone models
Cheaper plans might be available on competing carriers
4.8
Shop Now

In April 2015, it seemed like Google launched their Project Fi wireless service almost in secret.

While they’re actively promoting it now, it still feels like it’s flying below the radar even among in-the-know-travelers. And, that’s a shame because it’s honestly the best international cell plan for travelers.

I’ve had plenty of frustration with the major U.S. cell carriers — domestically and especially internationally. AT&T offered great international coverage, but their global data plans were laughable ($60 for 300MB?!).

And searching for an alternative while traveling — one that’s affordable, reliable, and offers great coverage — became a hassle. I was sick of having to juggle new SIM cards and worry about foreign data service in every new destination I visited.

So, in late 2016, I jumped aboard the Project Fi bandwagon to see if it lived up to the hype. It’s been 18 months, and I’ve traveled to several dozen countries and four continents with Project Fi. So, I figured it’s about time for my own Project Fi review …

Project Fi Review 2018

A quick word about this Project Fi review: because I travel often, my experience is in using Project Fi outside of the U.S.

This review of Project Fi is likely to be most relevant to you if you too are a frequent traveler.

The Skinny on Project Fi

What Is Project Fi?

In Google’s own words:

One service gives you access to three leading national carriers. That means faster 4G LTE coverage in more locations.

Data abroad costs the same as at home — Project Fi works in over 170 countries and territories. No need to modify your plan to enjoy unlimited texts and data for the same price you pay at home.

How Does Project Fi Work?

Project Fi is not actually a cell network unto itself. Instead, it’s an MVNO (mobile network virtual operator), meaning it piggybacks on other networks.

In this case, those three 4G LTE networks are Sprint, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular. By combining the global networks of all three carriers, Project Fi is able to provide a substantial amount of coverage.

Motorola moto g6 - Project Fi Phone

Motorola moto g6 (for Project Fi)

The Traveler’s Take: A Project Fi Review (2018)

How’s the Coverage?

In short, I’ve been absolutely thrilled with the coverage. The official coverage map includes 170+ countries and territories. In the U.S., there’s a ton of overlap with Verizon’s coverage map:

Project FiVerizon
U.S. Cell Coverage Map for Google Project Fi

U.S. Cell Coverage Map for Google Project Fi

U.S. Cell Coverage Map for Verizon

U.S. Cell Coverage Map for Verizon

In my own experience over the last 18 months, it’s worked in nearly every international destination to which I’ve traveled. I’ve called and texted home from the southern tip of South America, southern Africa, Mexico, all over the Caribbean, and dozens of U.S. destinations.

The three exceptions:

  • Cuba (almost impossible to get any sort of foreign coverage because of government bureaucracy)
  • Mauritius (one of the rare countries with which Fi doesn’t have an agreement to work)
  • Antarctica (… because it’s f**king Antarctica!)

Mauritius is an outlier in Project Fi’s otherwise stellar coverage map. And virtually no cell plan that I know of (short of Iridium) works in Cuba or Antarctica, so I wasn’t exactly disappointed.

Immediately after landing, my phone will alert me to whether or not I have coverage in that particular destination. If Project Fi works where I happen to be, it usually connects to the local network in less than three minutes.

Unlimited data anywhere in the world for a one-person plan for just $80 per month.

Plus, the service includes Wi-Fi Assistant — access to more than two million Wi-Fi hotspots around the world. Whenever you’re in range of a preselected hotspot, your cell and data service can connect automatically (which helps you save big on data!). The changeover from cell service to Wi-Fi and back again is seamless, even if you’re in the middle of a call. Plus, the connection to these hotspots is secured through a virtual private network backed by Google’s ultra-secure servers.

In many developing countries, the local LTE service is faster than most of the free Wi-Fi you’re likely to find. With tethering enabled on my smartphone, I’m guaranteed lightning-fast wireless Internet virtually anywhere I need to work.

Project Fi Pricing: What’s It Cost?

The pricing structure is dead simple. In a nutshell, Google promises unlimited data anywhere in the world for a one-person plan for just $80 per month.

But, if you’re smart about using Wi-Fi while traveling abroad, it’ll likely cost a fraction of that. When broken down, the pricing is $20 per month for unlimited domestic calls and texting (international calling starts at $0.20 per minute, and varies by country), plus $10 per GB of data.

New for 2018 is Project Fi’s Bill Protection. Once you reach 6GB of data usage in a single month, the feature kicks in giving you unlimited data so you’ll never pay more than $60 for data.

Project Fi means one phone, one SIM, and one plan with dead simple pricing in 170+ countries.

To be clear, Project Fi isn’t the cheapest international wireless service option for travelers. It’s easy to find dirt-cheap international data plans in almost every destination around the world. But, for me, price wasn’t the only factor.

What I like about Project Fi is that it’s affordable and convenient. Travel already involves plenty of planning and logistical work. I like not having to worry about finding a new SIM everywhere I land, figuring out the pricing structure for the local cell carrier, praying for halfway decent coverage and data speeds, and watching my data usage add up, wondering if I’ll run out before the end of my trip.

Project Fi means one phone, one SIM, and one plan with simple pricing almost everywhere I travel.

Plus, Project Fi is the rare carrier that actually refunds you for data you don’t use. So, if you’re on a 4GB plan, but only use 3.5 GB in a given month, you’ll receive a refund for that 0.5 GB difference.

What About Project Fi Phones?

The one potential wrinkle with Project Fi is that their selection of phones is limited.

While this wasn’t an issue for me and the phones they do offer are great, this might be an issue if you’re dead set on using a particular phone model.

Here are the current new phone options (as of Summer 2018):

  • Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL
  • Motorola Moto G6
  • Android One Moto X4
  • LG G7 ThinQ
  • LG V35 ThinQ

Technically, Project Fi will work with other older phones (like the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6, and Nexus 6P) as well. Google doesn’t officially support compatibility with such phones, but it is an option. Just know that, if you run into technical snags trying to setup, say, an iPhone with Project Fi, you’re on your own.

One nice feature is that Fi customers with decent credit can score a new phone with a two-year, same-as-cash payment plan. So, instead of dropping, say, USD $900 upfront on a shiny new LG V35 ThinQ, you can instead pay about $38 per month for 24 months with no interest.

Project Fi also accepts trade-in phones. Depending on your particular model, you could land a credit of up to USD $440 at the Google Store.

How’s Project Fi’s Customer Service?

I’ve needed to call customer service twice in the last 18 months. The first time was from the Dominican Republic days after I activated my service. My phone wasn’t connecting to the local network even though it assured me that I had service. Turns out Google needed to make a few adjustments on their end to get things moving along. They were polite, efficient, and I was in business in less than 10 minutes.

The second time I called was about an issue with my Nexus 6P (my first Project Fi review phone which turned out to be a junker wrought with issues, but that’s a story for another day …). Unfortunately, the phone was six months out of warranty, so there was nothing they could do.

But, I also needed to transfer my personal phone number from AT&T (which I certainly won’t miss) to Project Fi. They prefilled all the necessary details to facilitate the transfer in their system. Then, I bought a new Motorola Moto G6 via the Project Fi website.

When it arrived, I ported all my old phone’s details and transferred my AT&T number to Fi — all in about eight clicks. The entire process, from receiving the package to fiddling with the new phone to receiving the text confirming the transfer was complete took less than 20 minutes. That was last week, and it’s worked flawlessly since. I didn’t even have to call AT&T to say, sayonara!

The Bottom Line

After one minor hiccup in the D.R., my experience with Project Fi has been smooth sailing since. Their customer service is spot-on, the high-speed coverage works in 170+ countries, and the price structure is simple, convenient, and affordable, particularly for international travelers. While their phone selection is limited, it does include some of the best smartphones on the market. All of which is why I highly recommend Project Fi.

Buy Google Fi

Get your own Project Fi phone now for less than $30 per month!

Are you a Fi customer? What’s your own Project Fi review?

The post Why Fi? I Cut My International Wireless Bill in Half by Switching to Google Project Fi appeared first on Vagabondish.