i purchased a ECTACO iTRAVL NTL-2Ch English Chinese Talking 2-way Language Communicator and Electronic Dictionary, from ectaco. Web link is http://www.ectaco.com/ECTACO-NTL-2Ch. according to the website, advertisements on it and feature description as well as its name, it as a speech recognition 2 way translating device. well, it is not. i have the following problems with it:
1. the name of the device clearly implies it is a 2 way talking dictionary. it is not. it has no chinese speech recognition whatsoever, and it doesn't even have any function to pronounce in Chinese translated words which are typed in by hand using its regular translation function. this device DOES NOT PRONOUNCE WORDS IN CHINESE, that have been translated even via the text typing dictionary.
2. in fact it has almost no working speech recognition at all. the only speech recognition is for navigating its menu system which is better done by the touch screen or the buttons, and a very limited and inaccurate phrase book function, which 75% of the time fails to properly recognize what is being spoken. i have tried it out with about 20 people now, just to make sure it isn't my personal speech pattern or accent.
3. they know what they sell and that the advertising is all false and rip you off completely. the full refund is available for 7 days from the shipment date from ectaco. they shipped it extra slow econo so it takes 7-11 days to get to the customer thus making the full refund policy null and void. after that there is up to 30 day return policy with a restocking fee, by the time i received my firmware update from them which was supposed to solve these problems, the 30 days expired. so they win or they win, even if you send it back to them they still get paid by you. their return policies are designed to make you pay either way.
4. poor tech support. i have received a firmware update which was supposed to help or solve some of these problems, but it did next to nothing. the menus seem to be slightly easier to navigate, but none of the functions that are supposed to be in it actually work. needless to say now i am way pass the time i can return this device.
5. device claims to has full sentence / phrase translation ability. it does not. it fails to translate sentences 80% to 90% of the time, the only ones it gets right are the simplest most common 2 word ones. that's it.
6. this device costs 2-3 times as much as other devices like it on the market. while the other devices do not have speech recognition, the do provide both ways translation and pronounce the translated content in English as well as Chinese. this device falls flat on its face when in competition with those cheaper ones.
7. the included Fodor's travel guide is absolutely useless. i purchased a English / Chinese translation device and they gave me a travel guide for Afghanistan and the Luvre in Paris. these people are just straight out idiots, or maybe their right hand has no clue what the left hand is doing or any combination thereof.
8. overall translation accuracy is FAR subpar to another device which i have purchased since then and paid $120 for it :( this one cost me $479. the difference is not just a little, the ectaco actually translates only like 50-60%, while the other one 80-90%. i confirmed this with my Mandarin teacher as well as a couple Chinese friends.
it is a complete and total waste of money. the advertising provided by ectaco, may be applicable to other, less challenging language packs for this device such as English / French or German, but it is an absolute ripoff when it comes to Chinese language. so be warned.