Since its release last November, Facebook Portal is making waves across the various smart display devices. Compared to the Amazon Echo Show and Google Assistant, reviewers aren’t too impressed with the Portal’s size, questionable privacy concerns or limited features. However, many agree on one thing. Facebook Portal does exactly what it should do— live video chats (group chats too!) with Facebook friends through a bright, vivid display screen. Based on our research, we broke down our top pros and cons to see if the Facebook Portal is really worth all the buzz.
Two Price Points, Two Size Options: Facebook offers two price points based on size and features: The $199 Portal has a 10.1-inch display and is perfect for video calls and listening to music. The larger Portal Plus, retailing for $349, measures in at a large 17.1 inches, and is awesome for those multiple friend or family member chats. The screen even rotates from portrait to landscape for a customizable video option. Both are made with quality materials and offers a bright, vivid display screen for an optimized video experience.
Facebook Messenger Video Chats (w/augmented reality and face-framing features!): We know the Portal is designed for video calls with Facebook Messenger friends, but what makes it stand out among its competitors is how interactive it is. Walk around freely in your own space without holding the device, as the Portal camera is created to follow the live action, automatically framing human shapes and zooming in and out as needed, all while minimizing background noise. Very cool. Also, you can choose graphics to make the video more fun and even select the “Storytime” feature to create sound effects and animations while telling/reading stories to your loved ones (great for out-of-state parents or grandparents!). It’s no doubt that when it comes to video chats, this smart device takes the cake.
Limited Features: Unfortunately, the Portal doesn’t offer many other features. Its main usage is primarily for video calls and listening to music, with very few third-party apps available. Basically, if you want to use the Portal for anything other than video chats or streaming music, it’s not the device for you, at least at this moment in time.
Privacy Concerns: While the Portal is supposedly created with privacy in mind, with the option to easily disable the camera and microphone, private (unrecorded) video conversations and no face recognition features, some feel different about it due to Facebook’s recent privacy breaches and ad-supported, data-sharing services that feel invasive. Honestly, many reviewers are wary about it being in their home. While Facebook maintains that the Portal is super secure and safe to use, it’s not clear that some users are convinced at this moment in time.