Franklin TG-450 12-language translator
As well as its language translation facilities, the TG-450 also has a couple of extra "freebies" built in. They're of dubious utility, but I'll mention them anyway.
Firstly, there are some "games". The most useful is probably hangman. Graphically, it is somewhat reminiscent of a high school computing project (well, what did you expect from a three-line LCD display?) but otherwise does what it says on the tin. Next comes quiz, which flahses up random words or phrases from the source language and awaits your eager keypress before revealing the translation in the target language. There is a general "level" setting which presumably applies to both games. In beginner mode, the quiz offered me chaise haute, steak tartare, assistance (présence) and référence. In advanced mode, it offered me irrésistable and grenade. I did not venture to "wizard" mode, as by then the novelty had worn off. But if this is supposed to be a "quiz", then more thought should clearly have gone into the word selection process.
No, it's not ZX80 homebrew: it's the TG-450's built-in Hangman game!
Next up is chance, which appears to print a selection of random numbers on the screen, and memory which tests your ability to remember a selection of random numbers and letters. I am baffled as to what either has to do with language translation. Finally, there's "keyboard wizard", in which you get to press given keys as fast as you can. I suppose it might be useful for learning that dodgy Russian keyboard layout...
As a way to pass the time on a long journey then, I think you'd be better off with a good book. However, the two language games may be the saving grace for those languages such as Russian and Turkish which have poor support for inflected forms. Somebody with little knowledge of Russian grammar is unlikely to find an inflected form of a word via the TG-450. But learners wanting to test themselves on Russian vocabulary may still find the games useful. (And if you're looking for Hungarian vocabulary games, for example, this is probably one of few options...)
Calculator and currency converter
Ever since Casio stopped putting them on their watches, there seems to be a general obsession with building a calculator into every possible electronic device. The TG-450 is proof that the humble language translator is no exception. Still, I suppose you might just find yourself in a Hungarian sweet shop needing to calculate the square root of 69. Then there's the equally indispensible currency converter, which allows you to convert between Euros and various other currencies that are no longer legal tender. You'll also need to know their three letter abbreviation (ATS is "Austrian Schilling" in case you'd forgotten).
There's a few metric-to-imperial style conversions thrown in for good measure. Navigating the menus to get to these is somewhat clumsy, and I actually think a conversion chart printed on the back of the lid would have been more practical.
Finally, in case you find yourself in a Polish nightclub needing to remember a new phone number, the translator has a built-in "databank" facility. Call me old-fashioned, but I'll just use my phone.
All comments and material contained on this page are accurate to the best of the author's knowledge.