What Is Facebook Portal TV?
Facebook, like Google, Amazon, and Apple, is trying to put some material in your home. But unlike these other companies, which focus on smart home security systems and smart speakers, Facebook’s strategy is to create hardware products called Portals that allow friends and family to stay — connected via video chat. The latest addition to the market is the $149 Portal TV, which has excellent cameras and connected to your TV for video chatting with friends and family via WhatsApp calls or Facebook Messenger.
Yes, lots of people are still worried about Facebook’s ability to protect their privacy and may be too uncomfortable, putting it at home. The good news is that now you can block the camera and turn off the microphone whenever you want. They’re now four versions of the portal: an 8-inch mini version priced at $129, a 10-inch version priced at $179, the giganto 15.6-inch portal priced at $279, and a TV portal at a price.
US $149, turning your TV into a videophone. If you buy two devices at once, Facebook will save you $50, which I recommend if you invest in Portal to chat with your family.back to menu ↑
Facebook Portal TV – Design
The Facebook Portal TV is a small, attractive black bar measuring 1.25 x 7.50 x 2.25 inches (HWD) on a rubberized metal folding foot that can go above or below your TV. Ideally, it should be placed above, so that it looks down from your living room. 90 degrees angled, the foot becomes a clip that balances the camera on the top of your TV.
At the back, you’ll find a proprietary power port, an HDMI port (you have to provide your cable), and a mysterious USB-C port that is useless for the moment. At the front, a 13-megapixel wide-angle video camera with a sizeable black sliding cover. Eight microphones are at the top and a button on the side to turn off the microphones.
The portal TV comes with a 4.4 x 1.5-inch (HW) wireless remote that looks like a lot an Amazon Fire TV remote. It has a cursor pad and power buttons, home, play/pause, return, volume, and voice assistant (there is another microphone in the remote).back to menu ↑
Facebook Portal TV – What’s Good?
The installation is easy. Portal TV is a small bar located above or below the screen of your TV. It plugs into your TV with an HDMI cable (not included, although this is my case) and comes with a remote control that you use to control it. I made it work about 10 minutes after logging into my Facebook and WhatsApp accounts.
If people get up and wander around, Portal TV’s camera follows them, panning and zooming, so they do not come out of the frame quickly and move freely, doing what they can do discuss with you. There is no other device that can do this so transparently. Amazon’s Echo Show products and Google’s Nest Hub Max have cameras, but they do not appear on large screens, unlike Facebook Portal TV.
Instead of having to gather around a smaller camera, similar to a smart photo frame, we sat comfortably on the living room couch. If you are concerned about Facebook’s privacy, as I always am, I advise you to unplug the Portal TV or slide the cover over the camera and turn off the microphone when you’re not using it. This way, it is active only when you make video calls via Messenger or WhatsApp, the latter being encrypted.back to menu ↑
Facebook Portal TV – The Setup Process
The installation process required some restarts to get a remote connection, but other than that, it was relatively easy to get started. I’m not happy that the device depends on Wi-Fi. When streaming video, I like having a wired network option to control the quality of the service. That said, it has a dual-band Wi-Fi and had no problem connecting to both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz.back to menu ↑
Facebook Portal TV – Best For Business
The calculation changes when you work in a company that uses Facebook Workplace for its intranet. I could not test Portal TV with Workplace, this feature is scheduled for December, but it fascinates me. The workplace is Facebook’s enterprise network product, and your company owns all Workplace data.
If you’re signed in to a Workplace account, all of your portal’s data needs to stay in your business (and if your company does not trust Facebook, your IT department probably should not have signed up for Workplace). It’s also incredibly cheap compared to other business solutions.
The Poly EagleEye Cube, which has similar automatic tracking capabilities, costs $700. Owl dating costs $799. The Logitech MeetUp costs $899. Of course, you have to be ready to rely on the workplace to take advantage of this inexpensive material.back to menu ↑
Facebook Portal TV – Best TV Experience
Portal TV has the same user interface and chats features as the smaller Portal Smart View. It starts in SuperFrame mode, which displays a Facebook photo carousel of you and selected friends, your Instagram photos, and photos you have downloaded from your phone.
Click from the super-image to view your primary contacts as well as options to access the portal’s streaming applications. It is more likely, however, that you are using portal TV by voice. He has both Amazon Alexa and his voice assistant, “Hey Portal,” as does the smaller Portal. Alexa’s skills act as if they were exploited in a gigantic Echo Show, with the results and lyrics of the songs often displayed on the screen. However, you can not use Amazon Prime Video or Drop-In calls.
“Hey Portal” answers simple questions such as setting the timer, reading the time, and the weather, but it is mostly used to say, “Hey Portal.” You can join up to 7-Messenger contacts or 3-Whatsapp contacts to a chat, whether they are on Portal, Desktop, or mobile. I connected the portal to a TV in PC Labs, and the zoom and the pan auto camera were very good at including people in and out of their frames.
The video and audio quality depended a lot on the quality of the Wi-Fi network our devices were connected to. Still, with a reliable connection, the images were crisp, and the microphone picked up the voices at a distance of about 10 meters.back to menu ↑
Should I Buy Facebook Portal TV?
If you have family across the country, like me, or friends with whom you want to keep in touch, then yes, Portal TV is an entertaining product that is worth buying. I love being able to use it to see my niece walk around while I hang out on the couch.
Of course, products like FaceTime from Apple work well for this, and many families use FaceTime for similar tasks, but it’s much better than cramming around an iPhone, Mac, or an iPad. It depends on whether you trust Facebook or not. If you do, and you’re one of the more than 2 billion users of the service, you’ll love it. If you do not, do not buy Facebook Portal TV.
It's a great way to keep in touch with your family through a video chat on the biggest screen in your house.