There seems to be no end to the variety of gadgets that the Windows Sidebar enables on the desktop in Vista and Windows 7. Language Translator for Windows Sidebar localizes the proven usefulness of Web-based translators on your desktop, with the flexibility of a gadget. Like most Windows gadgets, it's free.
Windows gadgets tend to be small by design, and at 260KB, Language Translator is no exception. Like other gadgets, it's as easy to manage as your screensaver or desktop background: right-click anywhere in the desktop and select Gadgets from the menu. The tool itself is a compact, colorful square with from-to language selections on the top edge and a Translate button on the bottom, with a space to enter text in between. The default selection was English to French, but clicking either language field let us select other languages from an extensive drop-down list ranging from Afrikaans to Yiddish. We entered our English text, pressed translate, and voila! Language Translator quickly translated our entry and displayed it in French in a pop-up window. Some languages, such as Korean and Hindi, displayed native script instead of transliterated entries in Romanized (i.e. "English") characters. Clicking More opened the publisher's Web site. As with other gadgets, we could close, enlarge, and drag it via the right-hand controls that appear when you mouse over them.
Gadgets bring a lot of useful stuff to your desktop, like clocks, weather displays, and notekeepers. Language Translator for Windows Sidebar is one of the most useful yet unobtrusive gadgets we've tried. And it's fast.