Even the most inexpensive desktop machine translation products can usually provide the gist. The very least expensive (e.g., Systran Personal) require you to copy and paste text into them for translation. Most work with your word processor, and add a translation menu so you can translate text directly. Some can be installed in your web browser and translate web pages as you surf the web. This is important for translating your own HTML pages, as they preserve all the HTML formatting. But beware that they may only be able to translate your web pages that are being served.
The lowest-cost translators have only modest capabilities to recognize and analyze the grammar and syntax of sentences. They are sometimes called Level 1 translators and are little more than word-for-word substitutions. Level 2 can match agreement in case and number. But they are still best used for simple declarative sentences with only one main clause.
The latest development is translation as a web service.
|Globalink's Power Translator was sold to Lernout & Hauspie and then acquired by Language Engineering Company, who seem to be deemphasizing the desktop product in favor of their new over-the-web translation service (Translate DotNet). The latest desktop version, Power Translator Pro 8, translates English to and from French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, and Russian.|
|Language Engineering also sell a line of desktop products called Translate to translate email, web pages, documents, instant messages, and more between English and Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Hebrew Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Ukrainian.|
|Transparent Language translation products include Easy Translator ($60) and Desktop Translator ($130). Their Transcend series of professional translators costs hundreds of dollars per language pair.|
|Universal Translator 2000 ($150) translates into forty languages (Most at simple word recognition Level 1, but including twelve languages at Level 2), with software keyboard support for each one.|
|Systran Personal Edition multilingual pack is $99 for the electronic download version with 5 bidirectional language pairs - English to and from French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese. A download version of Systran Professional Standard is $350 for the same language pairs. The new Systran 5.0 Office Translator works from inside Microsoft Office to translate Word, PowerPoint, and Excel files and Internet Explorer web pages. Systran is the technology behind AltaVista babelfish.|
Translation Experts free online translation service InterTran is offered as a downloadable desktop version that is grammar aware called NeuroTran. The license is $100/year for each bilingual language pair (e.g, English to German and German to English).
At Open Internet Lexicon we used some of these desktop tools to make our first draft translation in each language. We also consulted Babelfish, FreeTranslation.com, and our print dictionaries frequently.