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Facebook Portal Go Review: Best and Worst Video Chat Box

Portal Go is a near-perfect video calling gadget.I hope it doesn’t come from

Facebook Ltd

FB 1.13%

The new $ 199 console, launched on Tuesday, October 19, will be available on Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Zoom, and more.

Verizon‘NS

By BlueJeans, Cisco Webex, and the end of the year,

Microsoft

Team—and that’s

Amazon‘NS

It has built-in Alexa voice control.

The handle on the back of Portal Go makes it easy to carry. The device weighs about 3.2 pounds.


Photo:

Nicole Nguyen / Wall Street Journal

Other video chat boxes like google Nest Hub Max And Amazon Echo show Must remain connected to the wall. Portal Go sits on top of a small charging pack, but you can lift the cloth-covered wedge-shaped display with the handle to make a video call wherever you want to chat. Kids playing on the floor and wanting to show things to grandma and grandpa? Are you trying to catch up after lunch? According to Facebook, Portal Go can be used wirelessly for up to 5 hours.

Dedicated calling boxes, especially portable calling boxes, make a lot of sense. Except for the fun video filter, this is a new landline. Of course, you can use a laptop, but the portal has a 12-megapixel wide-angle webcam, which is far superior to most computers and has no distracting work notifications. You can use an iPad, but this 10-inch screen comes up on its own.

Competing video chat consoles such as the Echo Show 10 and Google Nest Hub Max in the photo to the left also have auto-pan and zoom camera capabilities, but they must remain connected to the wall.


Photo:

Nicole Nguyen / Wall Street Journal

It’s not just for family catch-up. I used a browser to stream my Peloton workout. In addition, the Zoom app on the portal has quick shortcuts for starting and joining meetings from your work account. I was able to really focus on the conversation without the browser tabs and other distractions caused by zooming on my laptop. That is, the smart camera automatically zooms out to show the husband who just entered the room and wasn’t in the meeting. (You can disable this feature during a call.)

Speaking of distractions, there is no easy way to access Facebook and Instagram feeds on your device. This is what I think is positive.

We couldn’t find a smart display with all the major video calling services.For portals, you would be out of luck if others want to contact you via

Apple‘NS

FaceTime, Microsoft’s Skype or Google Meet. These platforms have web apps, but the portal browser does not allow access to the camera or microphone. (Maybe that’s when you reach for the iPad.)

Portal Go supports video conferencing apps such as Zoom. You can add virtual backgrounds with the Zoom app and connect Bluetooth headphones.


Photo:

Nicole Nguyen / Wall Street Journal

The portal includes Alexa for music and smart home controls, which is a limited version of Amazon’s assistant. There is no Alexa Guard support for detecting smoke detectors or broken glass, and you cannot make Alexa calls to anyone using an Echo device. You can ask Alexa to play the song on Spotify, or tap the suggested playlist, but it’s not enough to just enter the song title. It’s basically a weird little quirk for what is a tablet with decent speakers.

Facebook spokeswoman Lisa Auslen said the company will continue to add new communications apps that could eventually allow Alexa to call Portal.

So what’s the problem? Its developer, Facebook Reality Labs, is Facebook Inc. Is part of. There was a problem handling the user’s data properly, And its social network Disagree, Amplify incorrect information, Hosting Trafficker Rate of increase with Anxiety and depression Some young users have recently been featured by a colleague in The Wall Street Journal. I’m reluctant to bring this company’s microphone and camera home.

Also, I’m reluctant to pass more personal data. According to the company, they don’t listen to or view video or audio chat content, but they can log the apps they use and how often they use them, and use that data for advertising.

Portal Go requires you to set up a Facebook, WhatsApp, or Facebook Workplace account, even if you just want to use Zoom or Spotify.

The built-in shutter can disable the camera, but the button at the top of the device disables both the microphone and the camera.


Photo:

Nicole Nguyen / Wall Street Journal

Facebook Messenger calls on the portal are not end-to-end encrypted by default. I was unlikely to provide a lot of data to my company, so I used WhatsApp to log in to Portal Go. However, there are trade-offs. Only four people can be called from PortalGo at a time. If you are using messenger, you can call 8.

WhatsApp calls are end-to-end encrypted and account information and contacts are not normally sent to Facebook servers, but if a “small amount of WhatsApp account information” is sent to Facebook to diagnose the problem there is.

It seems that more people are buying and using the portal. According to Strategy Analytics, Facebook shipped an estimated 1.4 million units in North America in 2020. That’s just under 3% of the total smart speaker and display market. This is an increase from 1 million shipments in 2019 and may be due to a pandemic.so Announcement of financial results for April 2020, Facebook CEO

Mark Zuckerberg

The portal saw a significant surge in usage, but said it did not share the exact number.

Share your thoughts

How did you experience Portal Go and other video chat consoles? Join the conversation below.

Even my colleague Joanna Stern eventually Forgive after first refusing Check the portal for privacy reasons (although she is not currently using the portal).

“Facebook Reality Labs is not an independent organization, but we have focused from the beginning on privacy, security, and transparency to our users,” said Auslen. “The portal isn’t a way to access the Facebook app, it’s about connecting people. Hopefully people are aware of this about the portal.”

I’m still struggling to recommend Portal Go, but that’s a shame because no one else has made such a great video chat box.

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Write in Nicole Nguyen nicole.nguyen@wsj.com

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Facebook Portal Go Review: Best and Worst Video Chat Box

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