Pocket translators aren't the only way to communicate with foreign language speakers. Here are some other methods, compared.
Smart phone apps. Sometimes, customers ask why they should buy a pocket translator instead of a smart phone app. It's a good question, because smart phones like the Android are awesome products. But then, so are pocket translators.
The higher-end pocket translators have six or more translation tools, and most other models have at least two. The typical phone app is only one tool, and while it is helpful it's a debutante rather than a specialist.
A smart phone can hold a translation app. Pocket translators are translation devices that also hold other apps. That is, they are optimized for translation first and other things second.
Pocket translators translate, whether you have a signal or not.
Laptops. Yes, a laptop will run circles around a pocket translator if, for example, you want to crunch a big spreadsheet. But pocket translators have some advantages:
A mobile device is always on. You don't need to wait for it to boot up, as you do with your laptop.
A pocket translator fits in your pocket. Try getting your laptop to do that.
A pocket translator weighs quite a bit less than a laptop does.
With the pocket translator, you get the full functionality of translator programs, vs something pared down for laptop use.
The form factor of the pocket translator is geared toward translation, and that's not true of a laptop.
Human interpretors. If you thought getting a laptop into your pocket was tough, try that with a 150 lb person! A pocket translator has some other advantages:
A pocket translator fits in your pocket. Try doing that with a human interpretor. On second thought, don't try that....
You don't need to schedule a pocket translator to meet you somewhere.
You don't need to pay a pocket translator by the hour or buy it meals.
A pocket translator is a machine that provides exact translation. A human interpreter, well, interprets. So it's sometimes someone's opinion of what you meant to say instead of what you said.
Human translators have varying degrees of competency. Sometimes, they guess.