Facebook Portal VS Google Home Hub

Let's see how the Facebook Portal smart display stacks up against Google's Home hub.

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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 Google Home Hub's touchscreen is responsive and works well in combination with Google Assistant, whether you ask for help on a recipe or to check what's on your calendar. Pictures and videos look particularly crisp thanks to an ambient light sensor that adapts the screen brightness and warmth to match the room. A control panel screen makes it easy to organize and control your smart home devices.

The Bad

The sound quality is fine for background music, but nowhere near the level of other smart displays like the Amazon Echo Show or the JBL Link View. It's more on par with the diminutive Google Home Mini. The integration with the Nest Hello Video Doorbell needs work.

The Bottom Line

The cameraless, petite Google Home Hub will blend into any room in your home. It's affordable, and quite useful as a digital assistant (especially in the kitchen), a photo frame and a smart home control panel.

Ratings

Features

Facebook's emphasis on video calling means that most of the Portal's feature are, well, tied to video calling. You also have to be a Facebook Messenger user to use the Portal. The Google Home Hub, in contrast, is a more multifunctional device that cleverly manages smart-home control along with recipe browsing, video playing, photo gallery viewing and much more.

Usability

The Facebook Portal isn't difficult to use, but it certainly could be better. Its support for Alexa and "Hey Portal" commands make it confusing to know when to use which voice assistant. Google's compact Home Hub is responsive and simple to use with Google Assistant commands.

Design

The Facebook Portal is a larger device with a 10.1-inch screen compared to the Home Hub's 7-inch screen. The Home Hub's fabric stand gives it a definite edge over the Portal.

Performance

Neither device particularly excels when it comes to sound quality. Use both as background rather than full-volume entertainment speakers.

Overall

Facebook's Portal has more limitations than the Home Hub. It might be a good choice for Facebook Messenger users looking for a dedicated video-calling device, but folks looking for more variety from a smart display should look to the Google Home Hub (unless they want a built-in camera, since the Home Hub doesn't have one).

Videos / Photos

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