FR to EN hardware solutions - Canada/USA
Thread poster: Francis Murphy

Francis Murphy  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:15
Member (2013)
French to English
+ ...
Mar 22, 2015

This is the hardware solution I chose for French to English translation work in Canada, for European and other clients. I am a retired electrical engineer now doing translation as a second career. I attended French schools beginning at age six, although my maternal language is English and I have worked in French in both Europe and Quebec, in an engineering capacity.

I purchased a laptop from Costco ($999 Cdn), an HP Envy 17" with two 1 TB drives and 12 GB RAM. This is obviously overkill in speed - it is also used as a gaming computer - but for the $200 or so extra, it seemed like a machine that would handle everything for 4 - 5 years. Later I bought an SSD of 100 GB ($100 Cdn) to replace one of the hard drives. The SSD kit included a case to re-use the 1 TB drive as a backup. The SSD makes boot-up very fast, 30 seconds or so. I backup to Google Drive and also to my HD using Acronis.

My goal was to NOT change keyboards but to be able to type in both English (mostly) and French (for correspondence). My laptop was intentionally purchased with the Canadian standard "bilingual" keyboard. See

I purchased a separate monitor (HP 23 xl, 23") and keyboard. The keyboard is a Logitech MK520 Canadian French keyboard, as used in Quebec. See

Therefore, in moving from the separate keyboard to the laptop itself, there is virtually no change in layout with which I must contend.

In summary, my hardware setup allows me to:

-- use a separate, comfortable full size keyboard with good tactile feedback for both languages, without switching from FR to EN in Microsoft Windows. The setting stays on FR unless there are exceptional issues.

-- have a laptop with a big screen so that I can work while travelling, leaving the outboard monitor and keyboard at home;

-- operate with two screens, using Windows 8.1, as desired, while translating at home.

-- type in English using my Canadian French keyboard. Yes, the location of the quote marks is over the "2" and the question mark and exclamation are in different places, but English is much less demanding than French for punctuation. As for spacing before colons, etc. MS Word takes care of it.

Incidentally, I also am learning to use Dragon NS voice recognition software and have experimented with headsets. The choice can make a HUGE difference in voice recognition. I found the following headset to work very well, for the price: Others didn't even come close. I chose to NOT have stereo because I need to hear the phone while I work, and this is for work, not music. The microphone and noise cancellation are very good.

All of this has been working well for me. I will be interested in hearing of solutions others have developed for FR to EN translation work.

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FR to EN hardware solutions - Canada/USA

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