Product Review: Timekettle WT2 Edge Translator Earbuds

0
692
Timekettle WT2 Edge Translator Earbuds in charging case and box

When you’re in game development and working across international borders or, say, at a conference or convention outside your home country, how often do you encounter a conversation, a presentation, and other occasions where you wish you had an instant guide to help with translating? 

Probably fairly often. Me included, when I’ve attended different events in different locales.

While apps, augmented reality (AR), artificial intelligence (AI)/large language models (LLMs), books, and other methods are available as options, the Timekettle WT2 Edge Translator Earbuds represent a mobile-friendly hardware-and-software hybrid approach, utilizing AI with efficiency and accuracy in mind, that may be the right answer for some who often interact with multilingual folks and crowds. 

Let’s take a look and see how well the WT2 Edge earbuds can bridge those language gaps.

Front side of the Timekettle WT2 Edge Translator earbuds in-box (Image: E4G)

The package deal:

The Timekettle WT2 Edge Translator Edge Earbuds are bundled up in nested efficient black packaging and a frosted plastic front window, while including everything needed to get started in short order. Very nice and well-organized, especially if you like your packaging done Apple-style. 

The WT2 Edge earbuds are included in a white charging case. Two manuals are also included: one for operating the WT2 Edge earbuds through the app, while the other addresses the care and operation of the earbuds themselves. Additionally, a short charging USB-to-USB-C cable for the case and extra ear hooks are also included. Last but not least, a physical Timekettle Fish Card for redeeming up to six offline languages to download is included as well. 

Timekettle earbuds in charging case, manuals, FISH card, and other accessories inside the box (Image: E4G)

Specs:

  • 2-way simultaneous translation
  • 100% hands-free
  • Support 40 online, 93 accents, and 13 pairs offline languages
  • 6.5 oz.
  • Battery capacity: 440 mAh
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Protective charging case
  • USB charging cable
  • Ear hooks for earbuds
  • Extra earbud sleeves

Getting Started:

As a first step, it’s a good idea to charge the case first before Bluetooth-pairing the earbuds. In other words, read the smaller instruction manual about the hardware first, then install the app when ready to pair the earbuds. This is the easiest part of operating the earbuds, as a world of translation options opens up after pairing is complete. In my case, I paired the earbuds with an A-series Samsung phone without issue.

The Timekettle app home screen, with the four main translation modes options on display. (Image: E4G)

Once paired, I was brought to the main app screen, which enabled me to explore Simul mode, Listening mode, Speaker mode, and Touch mode.

Simul (Simultaneous) mode allows the user to listen to two different languages, one through each earbud, except it’s a continuous flow, so an earbud can be optionally shared in one language or another.

Listening mode allows a user to listen to content in one language and hear and see it translated to a preferred language on the mobile device.

The Speaker mode is similar to Listening, except it can continuously play the sound through the mobile device speaker and adjust filtering for ambient noise for quietness or noisiness, which is a helpful addition. This is a fantastic mode for when attending events, when translating a single speaker on stage or for a longer video or audio recording to translate.

Touch mode is like Simul mode, except it allows people to tap to speak for a mic or the earbud to share earbuds. This would be optimal for a small group, say three or four people, who speak different languages and are okay passing a single earbud amongst themselves to carry out a conversation.

When exploring each mode, the app leads you through its features and allows trying out the default language test or trying a different language translation pairing (Image: E4G)

Every mode begins with a test run, to get users acclimated to the capabilities. Offline translation can also be toggled on, but unless offline language packers are downloaded (which are a paid option after using the Timekettle Fish Card), offline won’t be immediately useful. Settings that allow for text translation and chat, redemption options, and other settings are included. Also, having access to the archive of translations performed through the WT2 Edge earbuds and app is a helpful feature.

I tested the WT2 Edge translation earbuds with a English-to-Japanese conversation with a friend and videos in Japanese and Spanish (results cross-checked with native speakers).

My ears are shallow, but the WT2 Edge translation earbuds were a generally comfortable and stable fit compared to other earbuds I’ve tried, even when wearing them for a couple hours. Activating the earbuds is as simple as touch-to-turn on or off or to translate when using the app.

Performance:

The four different modes all worked as advertised, but I took a pretty quick liking to Speaker mode and Listening mode. These modes were quick at translating videos, such as game developer videos from different languages, to English. Touch and Speaker modes also may be a better fit for meetups and events, whether it’s having a conversation or listening to a foreign language speaker on stage. But every mode serves a distinct purpose for short or long form conversations, for a single person, a conference, a small group, and so on.

The sound quality was clear in every instance I’d used it, regardless of language used. Having a clear machine voice enunciate back certainly helped.

Charging the Timekettle earbuds in their magnetic clamshell case (Image: E4G)

Battery life for the WT2 Edge translation earbuds clocked in at about 3 hours for me, but that was with off-and-on testing. Different modes and usage frequency are sure to test the battery differently. In any case, keep the charging cord and case nearby if you plan to use them all day. Speaking of charging, it took me a little over the recommended hour-long time to fully charge the earbuds the first time around, and the window to fully charge from empty the second time was closer to 1.5 hours.

After testing, I determined the WT2 Edge translation earbuds’ accuracy to be good to very good overall, especially with formally presented audio and video. To riff on an old saying, occasionally some things are lost in translation. More complex phrasing or casual terms and phrases did not usually process 100% accurately. The speed of translation processing is generally uniform, so you may find it takes time to speak or post the text when engaging with a fast native speaker. But translation process is pretty quick, no more than five seconds to initiate the translation process. 

Pros:

  • Smart, elegant design, from the packaging to the device operation itself. 
  • Generally high-quality translation. I particularly enjoyed using Speaker and Touch mode, for my purposes.
  • Translates dozens of languages. If the other languages tested meet the performance of the few I tested, the WT2 Edge earbuds should be broadly reliable.
  • Speedy translation process, which may sometimes lag behind a fast live speaker, but it will eventually process the content you throw at it with few drops and omissions
  • Clear audio and playback elocution quality

Cons:

  • At $349 with online and offline capabilities (or $299 for the online-only version), this isn’t a low-cost option for translation — in terms of more casual users, in particular).
  • Can’t take phone calls or use for music, which is unfortunate for a top-end product. 

Ideal for:

The Timekettle WT2 Edge earbuds are not necessarily for everyone with an interest in translation. There are other options that meet that objective, including less expensive options from Timekettle with a lot of the same functionality. Could you use these earbuds to, for example, translate characters in a game, while playing it, from one language to another? Sure, it would fun and doable, but it’s not really what they are intended for.

But, professionals who travel to international meetings or conferences often or game developers who work with people from different backgrounds, they may be looking for a speedy, largely accurate, reliable catch-all translation solution, with enough options to cover whatever language they may reasonably expect to encounter. They may look for offline translation options in parts of the world where Internet is spotty or not available as well. They might not want the hiccups from machine translation, less feature-rich alternatives, or don’t want to wait it out for AI solutions down the road and for these folks especially, the Timekettle WT2 Edge Translator Earbuds would be a very strong choice.