Facebook Portal: 4 Less Creepy Alternatives With Nearly Identical Features
Facebook is trying to ride the smart display wave with its new $199 and $349 Portal home devices, but it’s wiping out. On Thursday, the video-conferencing, smart speaker hybrid was pelted with a myriad of less-than-positive reviews primarily citing privacy concerns due to the company’s soiled security track record.
The Portal’s announcement came days after Facebook revealed that its “View As” feature was exploited to compromise 30 million additional accounts. It also hasn’t been that long since the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which resulted in the leak of data from some 87 million users. The timing was questionable, almost as if the social media company was forced to roll out the Portal to try and compete with the likes of Google and Amazon, which have products out now. The reviews punished it.
Farhad Manjoo from The New York Times said that it felt like a “digital Eye of Sauron” constantly watching him move around the room. TechCrunch’s Brian Heater wrote that inviting Facebook into ones home comes with “privacy baggage” that can’t be lessened, no matter what the company says. Finally, Kevin Dugan from the New York Post called it flat-out “creepy.”
If you feel the same way, there are four other almost identical products that won’t skeeve you out every time you walk past them.
Facebook Portal Alternatives: Google Home Hub for $149
The day after Portal was announced, Google introduced its own smart display called the Home Hub. Its seven-inch screen is smaller than the Portal’s 10.1-inch display. It’s the only display of the bunch that doesn’t have a camera, which company executives made sure to highlight in a clear jab at Facebook.
The Google Assistant-powered device’s primary function is to act as the brains of your smart home, connecting all of the Internet of Things gadgets under your roof in one app. It can also help you cook and serve as a futuristic picture frame.
Dan Seifert from The Verge said he could see it becoming a “permanent fixture” in the homes of parents and grandparents.
Facebook Portal Alternatives: Lenovo Smart Display for $244
If you want something a little bigger with the same Google Assistant features, look to the 10-inch Lenovo Smart Display. Since the tablet-like device is much less compact, many reviewers found this to be a perfect-sized kitchen TV set that can also be helpful when meal prepping.
Dieter Bohn from The Verge called it a “Google appliance” that shines in the kitchen. Kim Wetzel from Digital Trends, meanwhile, wrote that the Lenovo Smart Display “felt at home” once she used it for cooking.
Facebook Portal Alternatives: Amazon Echo Show (2nd Gen) for $229
Amazon was the first to make the smart display trend happen and has improved upon the original Echo Show with a 10.1-inch second-generation that looks almost identical to an iPad. The e-commerce giant launched this smart display as a way for Alexa to show users things instead of just telling them, and this second iteration improves where the original fell kind of flat.
It has smaller bezels, a sharper screen, improved sound, and serves as a hub to all of your Amazon IoT devices. Smart displays are still trying to find their place — they’re currently marketed as a sort of “jack-of-all-trades” device — but even that didn’t stop reviewers from praising the Echo Show.
“While still a bit confusing about what it wants to be, the second Echo Show is a huge improvement over the first,” wrote Monica Chin from Tom’s Guide.
Facebook Portal Alternatives: JBL Link View for $200
The JBL Link View, the most unique-looking out of all of the smart displays, is the only one that doubled down on its music capabilities. JBL is a loudspeaker company first, and that’s evident from two rounded speakers that flank the Link View’s 8-inch screen.
It comes with the Google Assistant, just like the Home Hub and Lenovo, making it a worthy sous chef. But this display is geared for all of the audiophiles out there.
“It has the best speakers of any display we’ve tried,” said Jefferey Van Camp from Wired.