Despite the fact that the Portal+ from Facebook is good for video calls, you will not want to.
Many people reacted skeptically when first hearing about the screens smart Facebook Portal and Portal Plus. In the light of the problems that it has gotten the networking giant with respect to violations of privacy, could it be that people really want a speaker with capacity of Alexa, with a mobile camera, and with the mark Facebook in their homes? With that dose of skepticism, we decided to take a drive, thinking that we would not like.
But to our surprise, it was not so. While we still have some reservations about the limitations of the device, including the price of $350, would be a good gift for those who are faithful to Facebook.
First, let’s talk about the design and the size. While Portal has a 10 ” screen, Portal Plus comes with an incredible display of 15.6 inches. It is bigger than many laptop computers, and is like a giant tablet mounted on a base, high and narrow, with nearly 18 inches high.
Yes, you read that right: Portal Plus Facebook does not have the application from Facebook.
But what makes it unique is not its size, but your camera has a field of vision of 140 degrees, and that can follow you while you walk through a room.
The screen Portal Plus rotates horizontally to vertical, pulling down on the corner of the device. There is an on/off button for the camera and volume control buttons at the top. A speaker fills the bottom of the screen. In general, the device is huge, and no matter if you have it configured vertically or horizontally, which will occupy a lot of space.
Really… what is good?
The Portal Plus is primarily a device for video calling that allows you to contact your friends from Facebook. Once you’re connected to your account Facebook, you can add people as “favorites” and receive notifications when they are online and available to talk. Provided that the contact has the app Messenger, you should be able to talk with them while they are on a phone or tablet. Will not work if the person you are trying to call uses the web version of Facebook.
The device has some built-in applications that allow access to YouTube, Pandora, Spotify, and some other sources, which means that you can browse through cooking videos or listen to your favorite music. Also, you can select multiple photos and videos in your feed from Facebook and use your website as a digital photo frame. It also functions as a horn of Amazon Alexa, and a variety of functions of the digital assistant.
Some omissions are evident in the Portal Plus are the lack of an application of Facebook, a web browser and the ability to add applications. Yes, you read that right: Portal Plus Facebook does not have the application from Facebook. Therefore, if you thought that you could use the device as a giant screen to scroll through your feed, you will not be able to do it, and neither can you add apps to the device for the moment. Nor does it have a web browser, although you can use Alexa to get some answers.
When Facebook sent us the Portal Plus, we also sent another Portal small so that we could give it to another person to chat by video. We decided to send it to the mom of one of our colleagues, who is an avid user of Facebook and we think that would probably be the target market for this device.
We tested the camera moving around the room to see how it worked tracking. The camera in the Portal Plus is focused on our colleague and moved very slightly as he moved to the left and to the right in the office. He did the same on the Portal of his mom, moving from side to side as the camera followed his movement. The feature definitely looks a bit like a 3D effect, and the quality of the video is quite good in general. Needless to say, the mom and the grandparents were delighted with the ability to clearly see his grandson move around the room.
During the call, you can add special effects so that the person you’re talking to see as -for example – with ears and nose of a pig, or a cat in the head. It is a fun and entertaining function.
¡Alexa! Or should I say, ‘Hey Portal’?
There are two different ways of interacting with the Portal Plus by using your voice. For that, you need to ask Alexa or Portal. Sounds confusing, but here I explain: you Use “Hey Portal” when you want to call someone, or adjust the volume. Using “Alexa” to see videos of YouTube, turn off the lights smart-connected, lower the volume, and many other things. It seems confusing to have two wizards of different voice incorporated, especially when there is some overlap in the things that everyone can do. In addition, the voice of Portal is a little more disjointed to Alexa.
It seems confusing to have two wizards of different voice incorporated.
As for the sound, we tested the speakers, and ask the Portal Plus play a song, and then reproduciera the same melody on an Amazon Echo Show. We discovered that the Portal Plus emits a sound surprisingly strong and it fills the room, but in comparison with the Echo Show, which sounds a bit empty and less robust. Even so, it is more than enough to chat by video, or listen to music while cutting vegetables for dinner.
A note on privacy
The privacy issues of Facebook are already well-documented, which is part of the reason why we get concerned when we heard about this device. Could it be that people are going to buy a camera traveling with the brand of Facebook that collect your information? It remains to be seen, but Facebook has tried to avoid privacy concerns by promising that the Portal and Portal Plus does not collect data from users.
It is clear that Facebook has thought about this. To calm the fears of those who have problems with the cameras inside their houses, the company built some safety measures. Not only can you turn off the camera and the microphone, but there is also a separate fitting which can be placed over the camera to cover it. In addition, Facebook has promised that it will not use your data to target ads.
While Facebook Portal has some great features video chat and a function to frame photos and videos, we’re not happy with the lack of apps, the confusing experience of voice control, privacy issues, and its price.
Even so, the Portal Plus could be perfect for fans of Facebook who appreciate the idea of communicating with friends and loved ones by video chat. We are thinking of our parents and grandparents who may not have a laptop or tablet, or they may not feel comfortable using Skype or other platforms of connection.
However, the Portal Plus costs $349, which is a large amount of money to spend on a device that is only good for calls, without a web browser and a few applications. The Portal 10-inch is cheaper at $199, but it’s still a high amount to spend on a device with limited functionality.
Even if your mom or your grandparents are fans of Facebook, for now we can recommend fully to buy the device. While it is a good start and has strong functions of video calls, we lack a lot to be a expenditure that is worthy, not to be that Facebook add more functionality. For now, if you want to be in constant contact with your loved ones, you might consider buying a Google Home Hub or an Amazon Echo Show, unless you like the idea of a camera that follows your movements around the room.
Recommendations of the editor