Facebook Portal Go Review: The Ultimate Video Calling Device?

Initially, I must admit being skeptical of the Facebook Portal Go. This portable smart display seemed useless: after all, any decent smartphone can serve the same purpose, if that purpose is to give you freedom of movement while passing by. a video call.

While it is true that a smartphone can do infinitely more than Portal Go, there is still a lot to be said about having a device dedicated to your video calling needs, especially a device as well designed as this one. It’s not perfect but, provided you don’t need much more than good quality video and sound for your next Zoom or FaceBook call, the Portal Go will serve you exceptionally well.

Facebook Go Portal Review: What Do You Get For The Money?

The Facebook Go portal costs £ 199 (RRP). This gives you a smart wedge-shaped screen with a 10.1 inch, 1280 x 800 screen. Portal Go is primarily designed for video calling via WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Zoom or Microsoft Teams (among others).

It has a small selection of other apps, such as Instagram, YouTube, and Twitch, as well as a built-in web browser for general web browsing and is controlled via the 10.1 inch touchscreen or by barking. commands to the built-in Facebook Assistant – Facebook’s response to Alexa. Speaking of whom: Portal Go also has basic Alexa integration, so you can control certain smart home devices using your voice.

Underneath the faux fabric exterior are a pair of 5W full-range speakers and a 20W woofer, along with a set of four microphones to pick up your voice. A 12MP camera with a 125-degree field of view nestles in the screen’s top bezel, and for added peace of mind, a small camera cover sits immediately to its right, ready to slide off. on the lens whenever you want. certain that you are not being spied on. There is also a button on the top of Portal Go that turns the camera and mic on and off.

Next to that you’ll find the speaker volume controls. At the bottom of the device, below the power button, is a concave magnetic charging port; the charging station itself is a little washer-like thing that fits into this cutout. And that’s about it: The only other physical feature worth noting is a small carrying handle built into the back of the device at the top. The Portal Go weighs 1.4kg and is 173mm high, 256mm wide and 78mm deep.

Facebook Portal Go review: What do we like about it?

The Facebook Portal Go is a beautiful thing, especially compared to its big brother (the Portal), which is little more than a dull, shiny black rectangle. It’s designed, just like its contemporaries at Amazon and Google, with rounded corners and edges, and it’s covered in tasteful faux fabric. It is light enough to be carried with one hand using the integrated handle and it is also sturdy.

Turn it on and the first impressions are good. The 10.1-inch screen is pleasantly bright, hitting 400 nits in our tests, which is bright enough for indoor and outdoor environments if you feel like calling your mom from the garden. Content appears crisp and colorful, with no obvious oversaturation, and the pixel density is high enough at 149 ppi that at the distances you are likely to see the screen from, you won’t see any pixelation.

The Portal Go’s 12MP camera also performs wonderfully, as it should. The resolution is almost double the megapixel number of the Google Nest Hub Max, although it is slightly lower than the 13MP camera of the Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd gen).

Even in my dingy office, the images were nice and crisp, and I was captivated by the portal’s party trick: Using digital panning and zooming, the camera can follow you around the room, crop you and follow you as you move through the frame. It’s a bit slow, but overall it’s incredibly useful. And, since it works just as well with groups as it does with individuals, it’s ideal for family group calls.

Equally impressive is the quality of the Portal Go speakers. By smart speaker standards – such as the Google Nest Audio sitting on my kitchen counter – the Portal Go produces lovely sound. The audio is crystal clear, with good instrument separation, there is a real sense of depth and – most impressively – decent bass reproduction halfway through. He’s also going surprisingly strong too. For listening to Spotify, watching YouTube videos or taking video calls, the audio output is more than enough.

There are a few general aspects of quality of life that I would also like to focus on. The first is this charging station: it is wonderfully intuitive and works wonderfully. It also pleased me to discover that you don’t need to log into your Facebook account to use Go; WhatsApp is enough. As someone who rarely uses Facebook, this is a huge boon.

Then there is the handy “Check Self-View” function. Before making a call, you can press a button to open your camera and make sure you look presentable. These are the keys that sell me on the principle of Portal Go.

Facebook Portal Go Review: What’s Better?

I’ve alluded to the fact that Portal Go supports a few high impact apps like Spotify and YouTube. Being somewhat removed from the larger ecosystems (Google and Amazon), however, has had an obvious impact as support for other third-party software and services is much more limited.

The fundamentals are there: Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Zoom and Teams for video calls and Instagram, Reddit and Facebook for browsing social networks. It’s hard to deny that Google Nest Hub or the Amazon Echo Show offer a lot more bang for your buck in this department – although in all fairness those rivals don’t offer video calling through WhatsApp, Messenger, or Teams.

And while Alexa integration means you can control smart home technology using your voice, compatibility is limited – you won’t be able to view live footage from your Ring doorbell, for example. You also can’t use Alexa to answer general knowledge questions, navigate the web browser, make calls, or “connect” to other Echo devices, although you can ask here to play music from. from Spotify, set reminders / alarms and give you a weather forecast.

The Facebook assistant is doing better. You can use it to open apps, listen to the weather forecast, listen to music, set timers / alarms / reminders and of course make video calls. The problem is, you are limited by the selection of apps. Portal Go can play radio stations, for example, but only those operated by Planet Radio (i.e. no BBC, no Capital, no Classic FM, etc.). It also can’t help you in a bewildering enough way with quick sums.

As I mentioned, Portal Go has a web browser but, again, there are limitations. While you can use it to access most regular websites without a problem, you cannot use it to stream from Disney Plus or Netflix. If that’s the entertainment you’re looking for, you’ll have to settle for Plex.

Finally, I must also point out that I was not blown away by the responsiveness of the Portal Go and it is clear that the processor hidden in the synthetic fabric shell is not up to the mark. Exiting apps and opening the quick menu with an upward swipe from the bottom of the screen took longer than I would have liked.

Facebook Portal Go review: should you buy it?

If you are the type of person who often chats with friends or family via video (as many of us are these days), Portal Go is in my opinion the cleanest and easiest way to do it. .

Limited app support and the basic smart assistant mean it’s not very good for anything else, but the sleek, portable design and excellent audio-visual quality make it an easy recommendation as a portable device. dedicated video call and Spotify streaming.

There’s just one catch: it’s very clearly very expensive at the suggested retail price for what you’re getting. With that in mind, I urge you to shop around and get it for a discount if you are interested in purchasing one.

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