Non merci.

The idea behind TalkMan is a great one. Imagine if you could carry a translator around with you on holiday, so you didn't have to spend ages flicking through phrase books, working out correct pronunciations, or SHOUTING VERY SLOWLY AT FOR-EIGN-ERS. Your PSP would always be there to help you order a sandwich, chat up a lady/gentleman, or explain to a doctor that your leg doesn't normally bend that way - whatever the situation, you'd never be at a loss for words.

Unfortunately things haven't quite worked out that way. TalkMan is like having a translator who's partially deaf and has only completed units 1 to 3.4 of his Tricolore book. True, it works as an electronic phrasebook - but only if you're prepared to faff around switching between screens a lot, and if the person you're talking to is prepared to wait patiently while you do so.

Before getting into all that, though, here's how TalkMan works. It comes bundled with a neat little microphone that slots into the top of your PSP, and the European version features more than 3000 phrases in English, French, Italian, German, Spanish and Japanese.

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TalkMan coming to Europe

Gut! Bon! Etc!

Hurrah! Sony's announced that its multi-language translation assistant Max will be helping the likes of us to speak foreign languages this May. Which is code for the fact that TalkMan is due out on PSP in Europe around then.


Get lost in translation.

"Please, don't write that it's a translator!" Yoshi Yamamoto is imploring us. "It's more than that!" No worries, Yamamoto-san. After an hour in the company of your friend Max, we're not inclined to. As you say, it's much more - it's an ice-breaker, a fun way of bridging the language barrier, and easily the best example of a non-gaming product on the PlayStation Portable.