Skip to content →

Sony PSP Talkman – a potentially brilliant tool

Sony seem to have a great strategy of bringing out peripheral based products that extend their games consoles. The release of EyeToy (USB Webcam), SingStar (Microphones) and just recently Buzz (game-show style buzzers) have all opened up their console to potentially a new market who may not have been interested in the console before.

Microphone attachment for Sony PSP

Well, Sony are at it again – this time with the PSP. PSP Talkman consists of a snap-on microphone that plugs into the PSP in addition to the usual UMD disk. When combined together the two act as a Star Trek-style “universal translator” and will translate voice between English, Japanese, Chinese (Mandarin) and Korean.

As someone who has recently spent time in both China and Japan, and experienced at first-hand the general lack on English in both countries, this is something I would be very interested in.

Max the bird showing the user how to ask for a hotel room

Being PSP, Talkman is presented in an casual and entertaining way – with “Max the blue coloured bird” acting as your guide. Talkman can also act as a language tutor – teaching you to learn phrases in the other languages.

Translation between languages isn’t anything new, not even in portable devices. I used to use a copy of the Berlitz Phrase Book software for my Psion Series 3 organiser when I was learning German in secondary school (it was text based).

However, being able to dictate into a machine that will then repeat your sentence verbally into the local language is something fairly unique. It also brings this kind of functionality to a much wider market – those who may not own PDA’s that can run this kind of software before.

Max the bird speaking in Mandarin

I carry my PSP with me when I go abroad from now on (it’s great for travelling). Being able to slap on a microphone and be able to translate into the local language is definitely something I can see a lot of people being interested in (particularlly if you’ve ever tried buying contact lens saline solution in Shanghai before!).

PSP Talkman is now on sale in Japan (but can be purchased on import and configured to run with an English-based interface).

Finally, check out this great Japanese TV advert for the device.

Published in News Thoughts and Rants