Sometime ago, Facebook, has also decided to enter the market of video chat devices as others like Apple, Amazon or even Google are doing. In this case, the diversity of these devices began with the name, Gatei.e. portals able to quickly and easily connect friends or relatives via video calls. Others clearly do it too (not all) but here Facebook, now Meta, wanted to give something more to these devices.
In recent days we have had the opportunity to try Facebook Portal GO which unlike the others puts originality in it and not so much in the characteristics that seem more or less similar to those of the competition, but in the fact that Portal GO can be taken anywhere because it has a magnetic charging base and can work even without being connected to power.
And this is its particularity: a device that is not intended to be similar to the classic Amazon Echo or even Google Home which allow you to listen to music or interact with the voice assistant. Here, Facebook wants to connect users in a kind of “portal” capable of reducing distances as much as possible. Now, in everyday use, it’s actually like that because video calls via WhatsApp and Facebook are really immediateas we will see, but the outline, however, hardly differs from other competitors given that in Portal GO there is even the possibility of using Amazon’s Alexa with practically native integration.
We will however see that Portal GO it works well and is also very nice to look at as a piece of furniture. Certainly not small in size but particular with its fabric finish and especially with the convenience of having one small magnetic charging base which disappears under the base of the device automatically loading Portal GO.
DESIGN: there is a handle to take it everywhere
Aesthetically, Facebook Portal GO is reminiscent of the various Amazon Echo and Google Nest Hub. The form is the same and the presence of a display for interaction can only relegate an aspect close to a classic desktop product or on a piece of furniture in the house. And his undoubtedly the big screen to dominate and capture the attention of this new Portal GO. The panel is characterized by a diagonal of 10.1 inches with HD resolution i.e. 1280 x 800 pixels. It’s an adaptive display and that means it adapts to the light and colors in the room, allowing you to always have the best view of the content in any case.
It’s bright and colors are strong and bold with good viewing angles and a night mode that reduces blue light during the evening hours, just like your phone’s night mode. It also has auto-brightness sensors which seem to work well and be improved over what worked on the Portal builds.
As mentioned, the dimensions are not minimum because numerically we are talking about a product with a height of 17.37 cm x a width of 25.65 cm and a depth of 7.87 cm with a weight of 1.4 kg. Convenience is undoubtedly the recess on the back that allows you to insert your hand and move Portal GO quickly and above all comfortably. Again magnetic type charging base is more convenient which ensures that you won’t go crazy having to put the cable through a small hole. Here it is enough to place the Portal GO base on it, guessing the position of the support, and charging will begin automatically, signaling it directly on the screen.
And that’s a lot especially the fabric that completely covers the back of Portal GO. It’s very similar to what Google used for their Google Nest and the feeling is pleasant both to the touch and to the eye with a product that can be adapted everywhere. It looks great above modern furniture at home as well as on a table or desk in the office. At the top of the device are buttons for adjusting the volume as well as that for the immediate deactivation of the camera and the microphone. In this case, once deactivated, a red LED will appear on the screen that will allow you to understand that Portal GO will not be able to listen to us and will not even be able to resume. Privacy aside, Facebook didn’t want to skimp, manually allowing close the sensor for video calls. A simple sliding polycarbonate superstructure allows the user to freeze camera images.
Facebook, or Meta if you prefer, did not want to leave anything to chance, especially at the hardware level. Here in this case at the level of the audio system there is a powerful system composed of two speakers of 5 W each and a 20 W subwoofer. And indeed the result is appreciable with Portal GO which sounds very good both during voice calls, but also with music. The sound is full and above all very loud, so loud that you hardly ever have to turn up the volume to avoid problems with neighbours. In addition there is what is called its smarta built-in Meta feature that uses artificial intelligence to minimize background noise and enhance the speaker’s voice during voice calls. And in fact here it makes the difference compared to other smart speakers, allowing you to have the advantage in terms of audio on both sides during video calls.
And from a video call perspective, the presence of a 12 MP camera with ultra-wide field of view, we are talking about a 125° FOVguarantees excellent performance. Both from a qualitative point of view because the quality of the image that is returned to the user is indeed high but also for the presence of an artificial intelligence capable of keeping all subjects in the frameAuto pan and zoom no matter where the conversation moves.
AUDIO and VIDEO QUALITY: very high volume
Functionally what you can do with it Portal GO varies according to need. On the one hand there is the functionality for which it was designed which is video calls. This is when you make calls with the built-in webcam using WhatsApp, Messenger, but also Zoom, Webex, GoToMeeting, Workplace and from December, Teams is also a breeze. They all have their app and they all work great. Fluid in their call flows but also optimized at the audio level thanks also to the suppression of background noise. The presence of 4 microphones that Meta has included in Portal GO and which work impeccably to reduce ambient noise or even to accentuate the user’s voice.
Simply connect your WhatsApp account to the portal and search for any contact by starting an end-to-end encrypted call from the device. WhatsApp calls offer great performance for both video and audio and from that perspective there is currently no competing device that does something like this so easily. In addition, it is possible to start calls with one click as they are present in the GO Home portal 4 icons that reproduce as many favorite contacts access them quickly without having to look for them in the address book.
And it is clear that the will of Portal GO is precisely to focus the user on this how a support tool also for those who work from home. And here the additional demo is the ability to sync Outlook and Google calendars directly to Portal GO.
As mentioned there’s Alexa built in and it actually changes the cards on the table from the past. The reason is obvious because having Alexa at your fingertips but above all by voice allows users to request any information and interact as if they were acting on an Echo device. It is a peculiarity that perhaps clashes in a way with the fact that the device is created and distributed by Meta but in fact it is that and above all what seems strange is the fact that the only voice assistance to request information is Alexa.
The most popular video streaming apps are completely absent such as Netflix, YouTube, Prime Video, instead you can see videos from Facebook Watch and Live, but it is a cold consolation. However, some services are accessible using the integrated browser. Precisely these limitations should highlight the functions related to video calls, an element for which Portal GO is officially presented. Music can be listened to through the specific Spotify app which can be downloaded from the App Store Portal.
And then the built-in battery. Yes, because we remember that Portal GO is a fully portable smart speaker with its own battery capable of allowing use anywhere. From what we have been able to test in the field, Portal GO, there are allowed to enjoy its functions for at least 5 continuous hours in video call and even more than 14 hours listening to music. And that’s a good result considering the large screen and the features of the device. It is clear that the proprietary connector allows quickly, as already mentioned, to guarantee not only the recharging of the integrated battery but also to make Portal GO a fixed device.
Facebook Portal GO is a product similar to many others but different in some ways. On the one hand, it has an aesthetic that echoes what has been seen with the various multimedia smart speakers from Amazon and Google, with a large, resolute screen capable of displaying plenty of information and even some videos. premium materials like the fabric that completely covers Portal GO, making it a piece of furniture to place anywhere. He has the ability to play music and to be helpful in responding to user requests via Alexa integration.
It is different from others because makes excellent video calls for audio and video quality. The 12MP camera with artificial intelligence always guarantees the best shot that other cameras of its kind are difficult to replicate.
His price? Price 229€ (proposed at 149€ during these holidays). There are clearly a lot of them but they are in line with other competing devices. Indeed, the quality of video calls is unique, but it is clear that greater flexibility in everyday use would certainly have mitigated the functional limitations that inevitably exist.