Two years ago, I said that Facebook’s Portal smart displays were 10 years too late. Then 2020 happened and we all found ourselves stuck at home looking for ways to stay in touch with our friends, family, and colleagues.
Other reviewers who denounced the Portal reversed their stance. What might have been a dead-end product for Facebook if not for major shifts toward hybrid/remote work is now getting two new models.
Portal Go — The smaller of the two new Facebook smart displays is the Portal Go. It’s got a 10.1-inch display (1,200 x 800 resolution), a 12-megapixel ultrawide camera on the front, four microphones, and two full-range speakers and a woofer.
Its main selling point is that it’s portable; there’s a handle on the back to easily grab it with one hand. Facebook says the idea is to let users take their Portal Go around the home or office. For example, if you’re taking a virtual fitness class, you could place the Portal Go on, say, a yoga mat.
The 3-pound Portal Go comes with a wireless charging dock — just drop it on — and lasts around 5 hours for video calls and 14 hours for music playback on a single charge. Like previous Portals, there’s a slide-over lens cover to shield the camera and a button to disable the microphones.
The Portal Go is $199 when it comes out on October 19. Pre-orders start this month.
Portal+ — The other Portal is the Portal+ and its 14-inch display (2,160 x 1,440) resolution. It’s also got the same 12-megapixel ultrawide lens and 4-microphone array. It’s not portable and doesn’t charge wirelessly, but it’s got better speakers (two full-range speakers, a woofer, and two passive radiators).
The Portal+ also comes out on October 19 and costs $349. Pre-orders also start this month.
Same use cases — If you've ever used a smart display with a built-in camera, you already know what to expect from the Portal Go and Portal+. You can summon the Facebook Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa, use it to listen music, watch videos, display digital photos, and, of course, make video calls.
This time around, Facebook is really pushing the Portal as a work device because absolutely nobody is sick of video calls. The Portal Go and Portal+ have a slew of work-related features such as support enterprise video calling apps like Zoom, BlueJeans, WebEx, GoToMeeting, Workplace, and Microsoft Teams which will be added in December.
Outlook and Google calendar syncing also gives you access to your meetings directly on the Portals. And, for whichever businesses are daring enough to deploy Portals to its employees, Facebook says there’s a way for IT to batch deploy and manage them.