Gear Picks - Kwikpoint Translator

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Kwikpoint Translator falls into the slap-on-the-forehead simple-but-smart category. I found the website ages ago through a recommendation in the "Practical Nomad: How to Travel Around the World", and tucked it away for later. Last month I finally decided to surrender my credit card number, and I'm now the happy owner of the Kwikpoint International Translator (laminated passport size). Total cost, including exchange and shipping - $35.51, via Paypal.

The handy card folds out to about 22" x 11", and lets you communicate when you don't know the language and have to get a message across. With Kwikpoint, you just point at the pictures that show what you want.

Looking for a room for the night? Point at this:

How about a cup of coffee?

Want to know how much the coffee costs?

In fact, it seems you can get across some fairly complex ideas by stringing together a series of pictures. For instance:

"Waiter, I'll have the deep-fried chicken heads please, with LOTS of ketchup."

And imagine the mayhem MacGyver could get up to if someone actually understood his request for this:

The Kwikpoint has a big section for food (with dark and light, draft and bottled beer), shelter (which differentiates between western style toilets and squat toilets), work (lots of office-y kind of stuff), activities (including running!), travel (even by helicopter), emergencies (fire, police, ambulance, etc...), and a few key phrases in 9 different languages (including the all important sentence "Point to it!").

Kwikpoint translators are available in several categories - mines falls into the travel category, which also includes a larger sized version with the same information, and a pared down wallet-sized version. In fact, I got the wallet-sized version as a free bonus for completing an online survey, but it's pretty basic (It doesn't even have the chicken head... what fun is that?). It looks like Kwikpoint also does a lot of business with specialty products for medical and law enforcement, and even have whole categories of translators for the military in Afghanistan and Iraq (and those are some alarming little pictures...).

And there are a LOT of little pictures on these things. Many more than I suspect I'll need. However, I find it a bit annoying that the Kwikpoint people squandered 4 whole pages on cover art, unnecessary instructions, testimonials and advertising. Consider how much they crammed onto this half page:

Imagine what they could have included in the space wasted on ads and stuff? I'm sure with another 4 pages I'd be composing sonnets with this thing.

My other quibble is with the astronomical shipping costs. The Kwikpoint is basically a folded bit of paper, mailed out in an envelope. The thing itself cost $14.99 USD, but the shipping was another $13.00! For that kind of money it should have come on a velvet pillow borne by winged monkies. Ridiculous. These are pretty minor quibbles though - overall I'm very happy with this product, and can't wait for the first time I really need it, instead of just playing with fun combinations... like this one!

"Could you please direct me to the waterskiing goats?"

1 Comment:

Leigh Ann V said...

I would never stop playing with Kwikpoint. Hilarious. With a few beers we could entertain ourselves fro days with that thing.

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