Tech Junkie Review – Facebook Go Portal

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Every business wants to install a screen in our house. There are Google Home devices, Amazon Echo devices, and now Facebook portal screens. The latest Facebook Portal Go offers some unique features, but it’s not for everyone. I tested the Portal Go at home.

Equipment

The Facebook Portal Go is a stylish countertop smart display. A 10 inch screen on the front is bright and crisp / The camera and microphone are right above the screen. Love the privacy cover that slides out to hide the camera. It’s different from what we’ve seen on other devices and it looks cool.

The back of the Portal Go is wrapped in gray fabric. This is a trend that we have also seen on Google and Amazon devices. I love it! It helps these high tech gadgets to fit more comfortably into our homes. At the top you will find 3 buttons, volume up, volume down and a round button that mutes / activates the camera and microphone.

There is also a small handle on the back! This is important because Portal Go is designed to… GO! It has a built-in battery and the charging cable is more of a mini docking station. Place the Go on the charging “pod” and it charges. Live the Go and it will give you a handful of hours of use without being plugged in. I love that ! Often times I want to make a video call on a smart screen, but I don’t like being tied to one place. Well done Facebook!

Software

The software side of things is quite interesting on the Facebook Go portal. The interface is refined! I didn’t expect it to be awful, but I was surprised at how clean the interface was. The setup was very simple using my phone and the menu navigation was pretty self-explanatory.

Facebook also has a small ecosystem of apps on the portal. You have a lot of the usual suspects in the App Store (or preloaded), including a web browser, Zoom, Spotify, Pandora, and iHeartRadio. It was nice to see Microsoft Teams and Plex as app options as well.

Let’s not forget that this is a Facebook device, so you will also find lots of Facebook apps on the portal. Watch app allows you to watch videos on Facebook, Facebook Live app allows you to use portal to live stream to your Facebook feed. The portal also recovers your Facebook photos so that you can browse your memories or set them as a screensaver. Think of it as a digital photo frame!

Oh hey… Alexa… how are you?

On top of all that, Facebook has partnered with Amazon to bring Alexa into Portal Go. Wait a second… doesn’t that resonate with an echo? Fundamentally! Just say “Alexa” and it calls up Amazon voice search. The screen will show the results including weather forecast, smart home control, etc. So… yes… it’s basically a cool Facebook smart display that’s ALSO an Amazon Echo device.

Video call

I saved the most important thing for last, the video calls! This is the raison d’être of Portal Go. This is what the portal is designed for. In my testing, it does a terrific job for Facebook video calling. You can make group video calls as well as single video calls. The process is simple, choose a contact and press the video button. That’s it. Facebook has done a great job of keeping it simple for Portal Go’s most important function.

Who would that be good for?

How do you video chat with people? This is the important question here. If you are passionate about Facebook and use Facebook video calling with your friends and family, this is the PERFECT smart screen for you. The portal is designed for ‘Facebook people! “Uh!

If you are someone who makes video calls on Facetime or Google Duo, the portal just wouldn’t make sense to you. You can’t do this on Portal Go either. It all depends on which “ecosystem” you use the most.

Conclusion

I’m impressed. Facebook might be a little late for smart screen gaming, but they’re doing a terrific job. The hardware, in some ways, is better than what we’ve seen from Amazon and Google. It is at least up to the task. The software is still thin on apps and integrations compared to others, but it’s better than I expected. Alexa integration adds a million features. It was smart for Meta to add Alexa instead of trying to reinvent the wheel. Facebook offers a viable option for anyone who uses Facebook messaging and video calling as their primary means of connecting with family and friends.

You can purchase the Facebook portal at Amazon, at most big box stores and directly from Facebook for $ 200 – it’s on sale for the 2021 holidays for $ 150.

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