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The Fluentalk T1 Mini Translator May Solve All Your Language Problems When Traveling

We all dream of a future shown Star Trek where a tiny device called a universal translator helps alien species all communicate with one another. You speak in your language, they hear in their and vice versa. The T1 Mini isn’t quite that but a solid step in the right direction.


The T1 Mini Translator is a small, rectangular device that comes in white measuring 91 × 55 × 13 mm and weighing 86 grams. Powering the internals are a gigabyte of ram with 8GB of storage and a QuadCore ARM 1.28 Ghz chip. Around the back there’s a 5 megapixel camera used for translating text on things like menus, plus a few buttons for power, volume, and a single translate button. The hardware layout is simple and straightforward and while the software experience isn’t quite as smooth, it works well once you get past the short learning curve.

The specs aren’t anything that will blow you away but you’re not using this screen to watch videos and boot up time is almost painfully slow. Once it does fire up though the T1 Mini has a singular focus, and that is to translate.

Talking Translations

Downloaded on to the device for offline use are 13 languages pairs, including English to Chinese, French, and Spanish. You can download a few more languages like Korean, Japanese, and German for additional offline use.

timekettle t1 mini translator

When the T1 mini is connected to WiFi however, that gives you access to 36 languages with 88 dialects, from Bulgarian to Turkish to Swedish. Embedded in the T1 mini is also a non-removable SIM card and when you buy one of these, you get a year’s worth of free mobile data to support translating, meaning across 84 countries, the T1 Mini will work with build-in cellular connection. When that connection period ends, you can top off for another year through Timekettle for about $45 dollars a year or simply use the device with WiFi only.

Push Of A Button

Setting your two languages, say, English and Spanish, the T1 Mini will automatically detect the language being spoken when you push the translate button. You speak in English and it will spit out Spanish. The other person speaks in Spanish and you get English. The T1 mini does a good job of translating too and from English, which is one of it’s “core” languages. I’m going to guess it’s good translating to and from Chinese as well, between French, Japanese, and German, one of these 13 language pairs it stores offline.

t1 mini translator

But when it comes to translating two non-core languages, like Swedish to Turkish, it falters fairly often. It seems to have trouble translating between Arabic and say, Korean, in my testing, so there is work to be done there.

When it comes to translating languages with the camera, it’s pretty good, even across less common fonts, the kind you’ll find on menus, and cafe signs. The translation is pretty quick, almost always less than a second, both with the visual and written text, so the experience is a smooth one, even if the translation isn’t always perfect.

Alternatives To The T1

You could use your phone and download languages offline using Google Translate or a similar app, but this translator is a lot less expensive than your phone which you might not want to take out everywhere. In a office setup where you’re traveling for business the T1 Mini could come in handy or if your in-laws are visiting from another country, for example. It’s a device you could leave in a room without having to commit your physical smartphone.

Overall, the T1 Mini is a useful tool if you’re traveling somewhere and don’t know the local lingo, so this device can help you bridge the language gap, in some languages better than others. It’s definitely a big jump forward in translating hardware and software which will only get better from here.

Cleer ARC II Sport Earbuds Review: Wireless That Hovers Close To Contactless

The ARC II are the second generation of wireless sports earbuds by Cleer – they’re overall an improvement on the previous version with one flaw they share in common.

Built For The Gym

Competing in the mid-to-premium range the Cleer ARC II come in a fabric charging case that measures approximately 11 x 8 x 2 centimeters and weighs 130 grams with the earbuds inside. The ARC II come in red and black versions, and you get a modest 27 hours of battery life from the case and each earbud has about 8 hours on a full charge.

Inside the case though, just behind the earbuds, Cleer have also added a UV light to kill bacteria and sterilize the earbuds. The light is focused on the back of the earbuds that have the most contact with the inside of your ear – so it’s not sterilizing them completely, but it’s a nice touch, especially for earbuds covered in your sweat.

cleer arc ii

The ARC II are also IPX5 rated, which means they’re waterproof against light splashes of water and sweat, so they should be fine if you go running in light rain.

Open Ear Design

When you put the ARC II on, they distribute all of their 14 grams well. The hook that rests over your ear takes on a lot of the weight but isn’t the most flexible and the back end of it is a bit heavy. Usually earbuds don’t have electronics in this part of the design, it’s just rubber and plastic. But since the ARC II are open – meaning they don’t touch your ear canal, some of that weight has to be distributed in the hook so they balance well on your ear.

Not having earbuds in your actual ears makes for a very comfortable listening experience and a unique one. First, you hear everything around you but the SnapDragon sound, which gives you some spatial audio, does a good job of not making the inside and outside feel jarring.

cleer arc ii

The sound quality is crisp, with impressive bass, and surprisingly good audio quality, considering these earbuds aren’t physically blocking out external sounds. Using the Cleer + app you can also adjust EQ and set the touch pad controls from their defaults, single tap to play and pause, double tap for the next track, or triple to go back. A press and hold on the right increases volume, while a press and hold on the left decreases it.

In the Cleer + app, you can set motion controls, so you can use your head to take and reject calls or scroll through music (a feature that works inconsistently).

The Pain Point

Overall though, the ARC II have made me a fan of the open back earbud design when it comes to sports earbuds. There are advantages of being able to hear the world around you, runners this is great outdoors, and there’s less fatigue on your ears by not having something sticking into them. The ARC II are more comfortable than most sport earbuds but can fatigue your ears quickly after an hour or two, limiting the amount of time you can use them in one go.

10 Passport Secrets Every Traveler Should Know

On the surface, passports are fairly simple, little books identifying you and with pages for visas. Inside though there are a lot of little secrets. These are 10 passport secrets you might not know about.

1. Passport Blues

The standard United States passport wasn’t always blue. This change happened in 1976 and before that were red, then green. The British passport was blue until 1988, when it became burgundy, the preferred color of European nations.

2. Color Choices

Passport national colors don’t have any international standard and countries can choose the color they prefer and often reflect cultural identity. Predominantly Muslim countries prefer green, but Turkey has a burgundy passport, closer to the European standard. Switzerland has a bright red passport.


3. More Colors

The colors of passports within a given country go vary however and can denote diplomatic or refugee status.

4. Holograms

Holograms in passports are used because they are difficult to forge and the machines to print them aren’t easy to come by.

5. Complicated Configuration

U.S. passports are printed at the U.S. Government Printing Office using 60 different materials.

6. Special Inks

Many passports contain special inks, that change color when heated or cooled, or otherwise might dissolve when tampered with. Your passport likely also has UV inks, visible under UV lights only.

7. Light And Angles

What’s known as optically variable inks are also used, meaning they shift colors depending on the angle you’re viewing them at.

8. Anti-Scan Technology

Also invisible to the naked eye are anti-scan patterns that prevent you from scanning or photocopying a passport without those patterns being added.

9. Small Text

Some of the text on your passport can be as small as a micron.

10. RFID Embedded

You’re probably familiar with this logo for radio-frequency identification or RFID chips which can be scanned.

passport RFID

You can learn more about your passport secrets in this video!

The Best VPNs For Travel (Updated: 2023)

Virtual private networks (VPNs) have become essential software, especially for travelers. It’s estimated that in 2022, the VPN market was worth 44 billion dollars, and with the money poured into advertising it can be tricky to decide on the best on for you.

Fortunately, I, someone with a background in cybersecurity and is traveling to every country in the world have used and tested a lot of VPNs. These are some of the best VPNs I can recommend to you based on how fast, secure, versatile, and privacy conscious they are. None of these solutions are perfect and as companies do, they are bound to change. But, you know what to look out for, now, going forward.

1. ExpressVPN


ExpressVPN is a good blend of privacy – they are very clear on the logs they do not keep and do not store connection logs. Independent audits are conducted and published to this effect and in 2017 when Turkish authorities seized ExpressVPN servers, there were no logs, and this includes metadata logs.

ExpressVPN also has the fastest connection speeds I’ve found during my use and works especially well in China.

2. NordVPN


Where ExpressVPN has speed, it is more expensive. NordVPN keeps minimal logs, only maintaining your encrypted login credentials and billing information. Both NordVPN’s desktop and mobile apps are very simple to set up and forget, and if you don’t get the added cloud storage or password manager, is about half the price of ExpressVPN.

NordVPN, in my opinion, is the most user friendly – good for people who are new to VPNs or aren’t going to muck around in the settings.

3. ProtonVPN


Finally, there’s ProtonVPN. It’s a Swiss-based VPN that has a large number of servers, blocks trackers, and has a secure core feature which passes your internet traffic from a VPN server through servers in privacy-friendly countries. ProtonVPN is also a no-logs VPN, confirmed by independent audits they’ve published but it’s not the most user friendly or the fastest and connections can be inconsistent. For tech-inclined people it’s great but ProtonVPN might not be the best for everyone.

Narrowing It Down

I think when given the choice between these three, if you are tech-inclined, you’re probably going to really like ExpressVPN or ProtonVPN. ProtonVPN has additional features for enhanced privacy, if that’s your primary concern. NordVPN is a good choice if you just want the VPN to run, work, then you forget about it.

A Look At foXnoMad’s New Merch Through The Fourthwall

The foXnoMad Store has been revamped and updated with new shirt designs, travel gear, and accessories so you can travel in foXy style. We’ve recently switch over to the Fourthwall and I just filmed a short video showcasing the new merch and store for both buyers and sellers. In addition to the classic foXnoMad logo shirt and the popular matte black edition, you can now find a few new designs like DroneMate vintage.

dronemate vintage shirt

foxnomad hat

foxnomad tumbler

I’m really excited for you to check out the store and products like the foXnoMad logo fleece jacket or the stitched GrassFox beanie. A lot of work was put into tweaking the existing designs and colors to fit best with the shirt materials. I hope you’ll take a look around the new online store and be sure to tag @foxnomad on Instagram to show of your new gear.

For a limited time too you can get 15% off your next order using the code FOXNOMAD at checkout. Happy shopping!

The Problem With Airbnb

Airbnb has some major problems and it’s not one fix or leaky faucet they can just plug up. It’s a widespread set of issues that affect the foundation of the company. But there are some potential solutions, so here are some recommendations on how Airbnb can fix itself.

Some Of The Problems

From discrimination against people of color, who statistically have a harder time successfully booking properties to price gouging in Mexico City, prompting residents to protest, to users being banned from the site for incorrect background check results. It’s gotten pretty bad in general and using Airbnb is a really hit or miss experience so much so that I try to avoid using it when I’m traveling now.

prague skyline

I’m sure a lot of you too are looking at hotels or other alternatives because they often have better service, competitive prices, and a lot less of the weird random trouble that can come from an Airbnb.

A Situation

I needed to book a few days in Istanbul as a stop gap between apartments and ended up paying around very overpriced $1300 for a week’s stay. But when I got to the apartment it was unbelievably dirty, there was hair all over the bathroom, rotting food in the kitchen, and black mold on the walls. As soon as I was able to book alternative accommodation – I notified Airbnb and the owner I would be leaving, why I was leaving, with photos, and requested a refund.

I had stayed a night there I didn’t request a full refund, even though the apartment was so falsely advertised I should have, I didn’t. And you might be wondering why I waited to book alternative accommodation? Because with almost any Airbnb booking, you don’t know the reaction you’re going to get if you try to cancel early. The owner might have gotten pissed off and thrown me out or locked me out or who knows?

Airbnb, because of how their refunding system works, basically forces you into a negotiation with the owner, mediated by them, for refunds. This process is usually over email, through their support center, since many countries don’t have a local office number you can all.

In the end, my $1100 refund was rejected and the owner offered $800.

Let’s Work On Aircover

Since then, Airbnb has tried to counter these instant regret situations with what they call Aircover. It basically gives you a refund for reservations canceled by owners within 30 days of your stay, and if the place is dirty, you can report it within 72 hours.


So, it’s a tiny start but in practice to make Aircover actually useful, Airbnb needs to do the following:

1. Offer full refunds or alternative accommodation if owners cancel within 90 days of a booking. Right now, it’s only 30 days out. Some cities during peak tourism season are hard to find Airbnbs or there might be an event like the World Cup where 30 days out finding alternative accommodation might not be possible. A refund for an Airbnb isn’t going to do you much good if you can’t go to the event but have already paid for flights, and event tickets, taken time off work, and so on.

2. Give you the option to get a full refund within 24 hours if the apartment isn’t as advertised or is significantly dirty or not adequately prepared for a guest.

Obviously you’ll still have to collect the evidence, photos, and videos for Airbnb to review but if there legitimately is an issue, it shouldn’t require a fight with Airbnb over it. And a simple refund of the cleaning fee just won’t cut it. While we’re talking about cleaning fees, those need to be fixed as well.

Strike System

Another thing Airbnb can do to discourage dirty or improperly prepared Airbnbs, is to fine the owners. See, right now as it is, if you arrive at a dirty Airbnb, you’ll get a partial refund, maybe even a full refund. Assuming you can find alternative accommodation. But Airbnb still gets their fees, the homeowner at worst breaks even, but there’s not monetary penalty to a host. In fact, that same nightmare Airbnb I was in is still listed on the site.

home restaurant

Maybe they cleaned up their act – maybe it was just a really bad day? In any even there should be a penalty as well as a strike system.

Anytime there’s a valid complaint against a host or listing, there should be a strike assigned. And those strikes should be listed in the reviews. That way you would have the reviews but also see if and how many times disciplinary action was taken against a particular place by Airbnb. Right now, the review sections are usually a few good short reviews and maybe the occasional long 300 word horror story. It’s hard to know what to make out of those reviews because the others, the majority, of people were positive so perhaps you discount that one bad one.

But an Airbnb strike, that would show that disciplinary action was taken against the host, and protect you the consumer from giving business to a bad host and also incentivize hosts to maintain high standards of cleanliness and quality.

Hotels Caught Up

When Airbnb was first gaining traction it had some real perks. First, there was the novelty of various places, a more home-like feel, and prices were often lower than hotels. Now, hotels have adapted – they’re pricing more competitively, offering unique perks and touches to make rooms feel more inviting, and in many places are better regulated.

Airbnb has gone from an agile individual-based startup to a big lumbering corporation but without any of the sensible services the legacy competition can offer, big or small.

Does Airbnb survive? Probably, but for travelers like you and me, there are a lot of competing apartment services for longer term rentals out there and hotels around the world that are looking like a very good alternative to Airbnb – until (and if) Airbnb decides to fix their broken system.

About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutHi, I'm Anil. foXnoMad is where I combine travel and tech to help you travel smarter. I'm on a journey to every country in the world and you're invited to join the adventure! Read More

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