Facebook has been in the video calling game for a few years now, but its Portal displays have struggled to gain the traction that other brands have found during the pandemic. However, it’s not giving up and has come back with another round of refined video calling devices – the Portal Go and Portal Plus.
But can it battle Google or Amazon at the top of the best smart displays game? The Facebook Portal is the brand’s 10-inch smart display that was launched in 2019, and now this has been joined by a new battery-powered version, known as the Facebook Portal Go. The brand also has a larger 14-inch version called the Facebook Portal Plus, but for most people, the 10-inch display will be enough.
Both are ideal if you want a device primarily for video calling, as they are the only smart displays that let you make WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger video calls, and they are likely to be heavily discounted on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But aside from the way they’re powered, you’re probably wondering exactly what the differences are and whether they’re both worth investing in.
Best Facebook Portal Go and Facebook Portal deals
Read on to find out just how these smart displays compare – or, if you know which Facebook Portal you want, check out the best prices right now for both products below:
The Facebook Portal Go will set you back $199 / £199 / AU$279 while the Facebook Portal costs $169 / £169 / $279, which means in the UK and US it’s slightly more affordable than the Portal Go. However, we’re not surprised at the price difference as adding a rechargeable battery to a device will understandably push the cost up.
As smart displays go, both the Facebook Portal Go and the Facebook Portal are slightly more affordable than other similar-sized devices on the market. The Amazon Echo Show 10, costs $249.99 / £239.99 / AU$ 399.99 while the Google Nest Hub Max is priced at $229 / £219 / $349.
While the Facebook Portal Go and the Facebook Portal both have 10in displays, you can easily differentiate between them due to their slightly different looks.
The Facebook Portal Go has a wedge-shaped design, wrapped in grey mesh fabric with the screen on the front. Measuring 6.84 x 10.1 x 3.1 inches, it’s slightly smaller than the Facebook Portal and is powered by a rechargeable battery, which along with an integrated handle makes it easy to move between rooms.
The Facebook Portal looks more like a picture frame with it’s rectangular design, while the stand located on the back, means it can be positioned in both portrait or landscape orientations. It measures 7.03 x 10.2 x 5.6 inches, making it slightly larger than the Portal Go and it comes in both black and white finishes. It’s also mains-powered.
Both smart displays have the same HD screen with a 1200 x 800 resolution and an adaptive lighting feature that automatically tweaks the brightness so it suits your surroundings. However, when it comes to audio, the two devices differ slightly.
The Facebook Portal Go has two 5W tweeters and one 20-W tweeter, which is not surprising given Facebook also pitches the device as a portable speaker for the home.
Meanwhile, the Facebook Portal has just one 10W speaker, and can’t match the room-filling sound and sense of bass the Facebook Portal Go offers.
However, the original Portal does trump the Facebook Portal Go when it comes to camera quality. It boasts a 13 megapixel camera compared to the 12 megapixel lens on the Portal Go. That said, on test we didn’t feel there was a significant difference in the quality of the picture when video calling using both devices.
The Portal Go has a wider 125 degree field of view compared to the 103 degrees the Portal offers. While more is visible in the picture, we did find the fisheye effect created by this wider lens did detract from the image slightly.
When it comes to basic smart display features, the Facebook Portal Go and the Facebook Portal are evenly matched. Both allow you to make video calls using Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp as well as conferencing apps such as Zoom, WebEx, and GoTo Meeting.
While the megapixels of the camera may differ, both have the ability to automatically pan and zoom to ensure you’re always in the center of the frame during a video call, even if you get up and move about the room.
On test, we found both were extremely smooth when panning and zooming, and we were impressed the camera didn’t pan for small movements, such as if we shifted in our seat.
There’s also a built-in web browser in both smart displays, which as well as finding information on the web, also doubles as a way to watch some video streaming services such as Prime Video and YouTube on the smart display. However, some such as Netflix can’t be viewed at all. We’ve asked Facebook why this is, but they have yet to respond.
Amazon’s Alexa is also built into both smart displays, so you can set timers, control your smart home devices and even find out the latest headlines or sports scores. However, there’s also the option to use “Hey Portal” – Facebook’s own basic voice control. We found this effective at starting video calls, adjusting the brightness, and setting timers, but it lacked deeper control such as the ability to adjust music playback. Those that are concerned about privacy may not be impressed to discover that Facebook records and transcribes whatever it hears after the wake word i used. This information is stored on Facebook’s servers for up to three years before it’s deleted, however.
However, as we’ve already mentioned the Facebook Portal’s ability to be positioned in both portrait and landscape orientation means it’s more effective when it comes to being used as a digital photo frame.
But with more powerful speakers, the Facebook Portal Go offers a better audio experience when listening to music and watching video streaming services
When it comes to choosing between the Facebook Portal Go and the Facbook Portal, how you plan to use the smart display will affect which model you choose.
If you plan on regularly moving the device between rooms, even when on video calls, or want a device that can double as a portable speaker for your home, you should opt for the Facebook Portal Go.
However, those that are less worried about a portable smart display, and instead want a device that can be used as an effective digital photo frame, or are on a budget, the Facebook Portal will be a better choice.