Review: Timekettle M2

Your own interpreter right in your ear

Like a real babel fish, these earplugs translate everything you say - and back - live.

Published 2020-08-09 - 3:08 pm
Timekettle M2
Geir Nordby

They look like cheap AirPods copy. But the Timekettle M2 is more than the “original” can dream of. The great thing about these cheap earbuds is neither the protruding microphones, nor that they, unlike AirPods, can play music in aptX format.

Instead, Timekettle with the M2 earbuds can translate everything you say into virtually any other language – and back again – live! And best of all: these are the first on the market that also work in offline mode, should we believe the manufacturer himself.

93 languages and dialects

Timekettle M2 supports the vast majority of languages you are exposed to. All the Nordic and European are apparently included, and both English, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Hebrew, Tamil, and many more. A total of 93 languages and dialects are supported.

Offline language pack costs extra, and you are then limited to seven languages: American English, Chinese, Spanish, French, Japanese, Russian and South Korean. If you are going to get lost in a place without internet coverage, make sure it is a place with one of these languages.

Timekettle M2
Timekettle M2 has 6 hours in the plugs and 30 hours in the charging case. But most importantly: it translates what you hear and say live! Photo: Geir Nordby

How it works

There are different modes. The best way to have a conversation with a foreign speaker is probably the so-called touch mode. Then the mobile screen is divided into two opposite half sides, where one is upside down in relation to the other. Both interlocutors each have their own earplugs. You touch your half page when you speak, and speak your language. What you say is written in your own language on your half-page, while the other party reads the same sentence in their own language in their earplug. At the same time, text appears on his or her screen, in their language. The other party then presses on its half side of the screen to speak, and you will have the sentence read out in Norwegian in your ear.


Timekettle – does the babel fish work?

So far so good. I have tried different languages, both Norwegian, Swedish English and Chinese. I even tried to say a sentence I learned in Chinese about ordering beer, and Timekettle understood it. Not bad!

But Timekettle has an annoying weakness, namely that it rarely takes with it the last word in the sentence that is said. The Norwegian language is structured so that the last word in a sentence is often of great importance: “Can you give me the direction to the nearest petrol station?” “I am lost”. “I can not find mom”. If you remove the last word, the sentence becomes meaningless, so it was necessary to try occasionally quite a few times, and formulate sentences in several different ways, before Timekettle understood it.

For the same reason, the lecture mode does not work flawlessly, where you can put your mobile in front of you and have everything that is said translated with both text and speech. This mode also works if you are watching movies in a foreign language. But, again, some information is left out, and it is not always as easy to fill in the blanks yourself – if there are important words you have not brought with you. But it works anyway, and it’s clearly much better than just sitting there as a question mark and not understanding anything at all!

TimeKettle M2 Graabein
Looks like AirPods. But the Timekettle M2 is far from any AirPods. Photo: Geir Nordby

Too hard noise cancellation on the microphone?

The built-in microphone could probably have been better. I think I understand what happens after talking into the voice recorder on the iPhone. There are occasional dropouts, and I suspect it’s because the noise reduction works too hard. It should filter out background sounds, but ends up filtering out some of the speech as well. If you speak very clearly, with excessively long vowels, you get down the error rate. But it is unnatural to talk like that, and one must be able to expect the other party to be able to talk as he or she is used to, regardless of previous Timekettle experience.

Does not meet music

Timekettle M2 has Bluetooth 5.0 and the connection is stable and nice. The sound of music is worse. Although the earbuds support aptX for better Bluetooth sound, I do not think it sounds good enough that I would use them as music plugs. There is far too little bass, as a result of them not clogging the ear canal. There are no silicone pads here, so the bass leaks out of the ear. Furthermore, there is a slightly sharp midrange, so the music does not become particularly engaging listening. For music, these are more of an emergency solution than anything else.

Timekettle M2
Timekettle M2. Photo: Geir Nordby


After trying the digital interpreter Timekettle M2 over a period of time, the preliminary conclusion is that it works and should clearly be on holiday if you are going to a country where you have minimal knowledge of the language. You never know when you may need it, and even with its flaws, you will eventually reach the finish line. But the digital babble fish is far from flawless.

The good news is that this can be improved with software enhancements. It will be exciting to see with future updates, in the meantime it works well enough to actually be helpful during the trip. The price is only 120 dollars, and the earbuds also work with music and for mobile calls. Even if your ears definitely deserve something better for music.

Timekettle M2

We think

Translates what you say live, also offline. Supports all major languages, including all Nordic. The last word in a sentence is often omitted, which can be important for understanding. Sound quality on music is pretty cheap.

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