I’ve just participated in the Which Engine Translates Best? survey, designed to test which among three leading free translation engines is best (for more details, see this post of mine, from a few days ago).
At least for gisting, both Bing Translator and Google Translate can prove surprisingly useful. I had expected Google to be the best of three engines, and, in my opinion, so it proved in this test, but Bing came a close second. A nice thing about Bing is that, unlike Google, it warns of its limitations: “Automatic translation can help you understand the gist of the translated text but is no substitute for a professional human translator” is prominently displayed in the Bing page, while Google Translate says nothing of the sort.
Babelfish made a complete mess of all translation samples (at least for English into Italian: I’ll probably test again the engines using different language pairs), and also turned everything to all uppercase.
Pity that Babelfish is so clearly outmatched by the other engines: with a name that directly refers to Douglas Adams’ stroke of genius, the science-fiction fan in me would love to see it shine brighter.