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Meet with Friends and Colleagues on Portal

When we’re living in virtual worlds, there are apps and services that tend to split our connections to friends, family and colleagues. It might be rare to meet with colleagues on Facebook Messenger in the same way it might be strange to host a family catch up on MS Teams. The device we use can also be different as corporate computers and personal smartphones create a physical separation. Today, Facebook has announced a new product that brings them all together, while remaining separate.

Portal is a range of products that existed prior to the pandemic but certainly found their use case once we were all in lockdown. Previous generations of the Portal looked like photo frames, offered Messenger and WhatsApp video calling and created a simple window to our Facebook connections. These two new models add new ways to experience Portal and even better options to connect. For the first time, we are seeing a Portal that is portable and both will now extend support into Microsoft Teams, BlueJeans, Zoom and WebEx.

Portal Go

Featuring a 10.1 inch display and a 12MP ultra-wide camera this smart display from Facebook carries the “Go” name for a reason. A long lasting battery means that you can leverage the carry handle and take this from the kitchen to the living room or outside and be used continuously. Four microphones will ensure your voice is always heard, whether that is for shouting commands to play your favourite track or when you’re on a video call.

Two speakers and a woofer should ensure you then hear your music or video call with ease and clarity. The camera on the Portal is uses smart framing to keep you in picture or multiple people when applicable. Beyond the ability to uses Facebook services on this device it also uses the Amazon Alexa voice assistant to allow you to control your smart home, ask any question you like and when it’s not in use, it can be a digital photo frame.

The Portal Go will retail for $279 AUD or $199 USD and will be available from October 19.

Portal+

The Portal+ is not a portable device but it does have a larger display. At 14inches, the display on this Portal will rival a laptop screen but the smart camera will obliterate it when it comes to video meetings. With the new ability to use MS teams, Zoom and WebEx on Portal products, the Portal+ will be perfect for the home office. A dedicated meeting station for all your video calls without the distraction of your daily work tasks on the same screen.

Loaded with four microphones, two speakers, a woofer and two passive radiators, the Portal+ will fill the room with sound and would allow you to move around your home office on a video call and still be seen, heard and hear participants clearly. The smart camera can auto zoom and crop to keep you in frame. When the Portal+ is not being used, you will see your calendar on screen, any reminders and other widgets that can be tailored for you. Whether it is a call from mum, your friends or your colleagues, you only need to look at one device for all your calls.

The Portal+ will retail for $519 AUD or $349 USD and will be available from October 19

Geoff’s Take

I loved the previous Portal devices, we gave one to our parents when the pandemic kicked off and were able to connect with ease whenever we needed. With the previous versions only being capable of Facebook or WhatsApp calling they were restricted in their use and took up too much space for a one trick pony. The new models are a fantastic upgrade and should be concerning to Amazon who sell the successful Echo Show devices but lack many of these new features. We’re excited most by the Portal+ for a desktop companion device that can manage all of our meetings, unless there is one from Google Meets.