Facebook’s pricey Portal Plus brings loved ones closer
This the $349 Facebook Portal Plus, a 1080p resolution smart display, and this is the $199 Portal, Facebook's more affordable 720p digital screen.
Unlike other smart displays out there, Portals are all about video calling, exclusively through Facebook Messenger.
That means if you or the people you want to talk to don't have Facebook or use Facebook Messenger, you can't use a Portal.
While Portals are limited to Facebook users, these devices have some clear advantages for anyone wanting to stay in touch with friends and family they don't regularly see.
Portal to Portal calling is much more immersive than a typical video call, because the smart cameras in the Portals actually track you around a space.
So that means instead of constantly having to grab your phone or tablet and reposition them to talk, the portals do the heavy lifting for you.
They also have augmented reality effects so you can select a fun face filter, or become part of a bedtime story during a Portal call.
Both devices have built-in Alexa speakers and Facebook's hello portal voice service.
Use Amazon's voice assistant for all of your regular smart speaker needs and save Hello Portal for adjusting the speaker volume, opening portal apps like Spotify, and video calling.
Call Rich Brown.
How's it going?
Wow look at you.
Did you see that?
I did pretty well for a second there.
I did see that.
It was pretty good.
Here's what I got.
It's not quite as impressive but Stuck in the beard.
I was impressed by how much I truly felt like I was in the same room with the person on the other side of the screen and without any noticeable lag time.
That's great since it's pretty much the entire point of these smart displays, but even so I'm not convinced there's a strong market for them.
The Portal Plus in particular is Huge and really expensive.
I do like that you can rotate it between portrait and landscape mode and its 1080p resolution but it's too big to incorporate into your home decor.
I also wish both speaker's audio quality was better.
They're fine but they didn't blow me away.
And while you can video call from a portal to a phone or a tablet or from a phone or a tablet to a portal.
It's much better with two Portals, since everyone benefits from the auto-tracking cameras.
As far as privacy goes, the social networking giant runs its AI tech locally on the Portal, and your calls are encrypted.
But it does gather usage information such as how long your phone calls are to use in the ads it shows you later on.
That means these smart displays will likely be a tough sale for anyone feeling uncertain about Facebook privacy.
But if you use Facebook messenger and want to video chat without the hassle of holding and constantly repositioning your device, the portal might actually be worth it to you.