Facebook Portal Plus VS Amazon Echo Show

The new video-calling device from Facebook takes on Amazon's second-generation Echo Show in this smart display showdown.

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The Good

The cameras in Facebook's $349 Portal Plus and $199 smart displays skillfully track people around a room, making you feel like you're actually there with them.

The Bad

They're expensive and don't have any standout features beyond their autotracking cameras. You can't use a Portal if you aren't a Facebook user -- or don't use the Facebook Messenger service. Facebook could target the ads you see based on the length and frequency of your Portal video calls.

The Bottom Line

Facebook's Portal Plus and Portal displays make video calling much more immersive, but high prices, a slightly awkward design (for the Plus version specifically) and some lingering privacy questions make them a tough sell for most.

Overview

The Good

The second generation of the Echo Show brings a better and bigger display, fuller sound and YouTube via Firefox or Amazon Silk browsers.

The Bad

There still aren't many useful or entertaining animations in common Alexa interactions.

The Bottom Line

If you like the idea of a smart display for cooking, calling or watching videos, the newest Echo Show is a great option. But don't expect any extras.

Ratings

Features

While the Facebook Portal includes Alexa and several apps, it's focused mostly on video calling. The Echo Show has thousands more skills (apps) and includes video and TV streaming options.

Usability

Both smart displays are easy to use and the Portal and Echo Show have a similar design and screen size. It's a toss-up here, but Portal users will need to say, "Hey, Portal" to control native settings like volume on the device, while using Alexa for things like weather or traffic information. You also can't use a Portal if you don't use Facebook -- or the Facebook Messenger service.

Design

The Echo Show is a bit sleeker and less clunky than the Portal, though both look pretty good. Both the Portal and the Echo Plus have a 10.1-inch, 720p display. The Portal's camera in both the standard and Plus versions features autotracking to follow you around the room while you're on a video call.

Performance

Performance from both devices was satisfying. Calls were clear and sound was good in our testing. You'll be happy streaming video and music on either device. It's worth noting that Facebook's Portal devices do come with a camera shutter for anyone squeamish about privacy.

Overall

Facebook's Portal to Portal video calling is great, and touches like autotracking and a camera shutter are smart additions. Still, the Portal just doesn't do as much as the Echo Show and it doesn't feel as well-refined. You won't get extras like guided recipes, either. If you're looking for a device focused squarely on video calling, the Facebook Portal is good, but the Echo Show still won out in our overall score.

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