Systran – Systran 6 Home Translator 2007 review

quick and easy document and Web page translation on the fly
Photo of Systran – Systran 6 Home Translator 2007

Most people have at one time or another found the need to translate text from a Web page or document into another language. Although there are free tools that can help, the most popular being Google Translate, many users may well have a need for a more integrated and flexible solution.

Systran 6 Home Translator 2007 should certainly fit the bill, with its comprehensive world pack offering support for a dozen different languages. The biggest strength of the software is that it integrates seamlessly into many of the most common applications on your PC, including Word, Internet Explorer and Firefox. More advanced versions of the software also include Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook and PDF support, but for most users the adaptability of the Home edition will be sufficient.

Upon installing the software you can choose exactly which languages and modules to include, an opportunity to reduce the rather large 1.6GB footprint of the full suite. When setup is complete you’ll find the Systran toolbar available in each of its supported applications, from which you can access the majority of the features on offer.

A pair of simple drop-down listboxes allows you to choose the source and target language, and by clicking the translate button you’ll find that all text on the currently active page, be this a Word document or Web page, is converted to the target language in just a few seconds. Alternatively you can select passages of text and use the right-click menu to translate and notify you of its meaning.

In addition you can look up specific words or phrases by typing them into the textbox on the Systran bar, which brings up a translation toolbar with a list of exact and related expressions. Finally, the Systran Dictionary Manager allows you to create and maintain user dictionaries that can be used to customise and improve your translations, including the addition of words not found in the Systran database.

In practice we found the software integrated well and reacted quickly, and the option to translate anything from a single word to an entire page, for either notification or text replacement, makes it extremely easy to use.

You shouldn’t expect perfect results, though; for the most part these are literal translations and, while they are usually quite easy to interpret, you’ll find issues with slang terms and dialogue that restrict the software’s use for anything other than convenience.

In the case of Web browsers, the software will only recognise and translate selectable text, meaning any text embedded onto an image, including flash and Java applets, won’t be picked up. You may also find that some links are rendered inactive on a translated page, leaving you to revert to the untranslated version, navigate to where you want to go, and re-translate the new page.

We’re not overly concerned by these problems when you consider that there are workarounds to solve them, and provided you’re not expecting professional results you shouldn’t be too disappointed.

Company: Systran

Contact: 0870 175 0525

Systran uses the same translation engine as Google Translate, so you can expect similar results in most cases. If the latter isn't sufficient for your needs but you're happy with its general performance, you'll find Systran offers far greater flexibility in terms of application integration and user control. Casual users might consider the asking price a bit steep, though, considering the free alternatives that offer a similar basic service.