Over the past few years I have chained tests of different smart speakers of all makes and types. With display, without her, in different ways and designed for different uses. Now, I have been the last month testing the Meta Portal (old facebook) that have arrived in Spain and are the loudspeakers with a screen that I have used more than ever thanks to a fundamental ally: WhatsApp.
Even if Google and Amazon they have become the benchmarks for smart speakers. Your models with a screen, Nest Hub Y Show family, have been focused towards being the control of the home and our daily tasks, while the Portal are oriented more towards the social section.
For the past 30 days I have been using Portal Go and Portal + (229 and 369 euros, respectively), smart speakers with a screen that give real meaning to having a computer of this type at home. It manages to mix the use of daily consultation and home management with being able to make video calls with anyone in a comfortable way.
Same idea, two uses
If a few years ago the most common thing was to call the landline, Meta wants with the new Portal to renew that experience of socializing at home into the 21st century through video calls. Even if Portal Go and Portal + they appeared together and share some aspects, they are smart display speakers for two completely different uses.
Portal Go is designed to take anywhere in the home. It has a system of magnets that serves as a base to charge it, but it has a handle on the back to move it around all rooms. The idea is that it accompanies us whether we are in the living room, in the kitchen or in the study. It has full autonomy as long as it has battery and WiFi.
Portal + for its part has a more leisurely use and is designed to always occupy the same hole in the home. That is, you have to better think about where you want to place it to use it more frequently. How was it with Portal, Portal + is ideal to place in the living room or a large desk table to make daily video calls from there, either at work or with family and friends.
Beyond the way of being able to move it or not, the main difference between both models is in the screen size. While Portal Go has a 10-inch panel, Portal + goes up until 2 p.m., which is a large screen that gives a feeling of total immersion.
Both models have a camera with an environment recognition system that, thanks to the artificial intelligence of its Smart Camera system recognizes the people who are in plane to reframe the scene and follow you. It will not be necessary to remain static in front of the speaker, but it will be able to recognize where you are or how many people are in the conversation to frame in tune in the same way that they already do. the latest Apple iPads with Centered Framing. The big difference between the Portal is in the field of vision since the Go is slightly smaller (125º vs 131º of field of vision).
Alexa and WhatsApp
The Portal have their own operating system, but it comes with two main allies to make sense of it and make its use really comfortable and easy: Alexa and WhatsApp.
As it is a Meta device, we can synchronize our Facebook, Messenger or WhatsApp agenda, in this way we can initiate conversations from any of the three applications directly from the Portal screen. However, due to the use of WhatsApp in Spain, it is especially interesting to make video calls (or calls) to the application to other mobile phones.
To do this, the most convenient thing is to save a series of favorite contacts (family and friends we call the most), in this way it will be enough with two clicks on the screen to start a conversation. It’s so easy that my three-year-old has learned to use it for himself to call.
In WhatsApp, not only does the automatic reframing work (which is perfect for video calls with children at home), but it also has a series of effects in augmented reality that add a plus to the experience of the application that, for now, cannot be had on any mobile phone.
Beyond WhatsApp, among the applications that can be found are others of a more professional scope such as Webex or Zoom, entertainment such as Spotify or Netflix, as well as there are another series of websites that we can access directly as there is no application. Of course, we will also have a browser to access the websites we want.
The thorniest point of the new Portal is, as always, privacy. As with the smart speakers from Google or Amazon, the user can be rejected by sneaking a device with microphones and a camera into their living room or bedroom. In addition, here, it is worth taking into account the reputation of the company with the different data leak scandals that it has had in recent times. Meta is aware and ensures that both are designed to protect privacy.
On the other hand, we find a button That turns off the camera and the microphones. Even if we say the command ‘Alexa’ or ‘Hey Portal the speaker will not activate. This is interesting to ‘disconnect’ the speaker completely or if we just want to make a call, have the lens covered but the microphones activated.
Likewise, Portal includes a home mode to share the speaker with another person in the home without having to share contacts or applications. It’s really easy to set limits so that other members of the household can’t, for example, chat with someone else’s contacts.
I buy it?
The new Portal Go and Portal + are one of the best smart speakers you can buy. They are for very different uses and come to meet different needs. In my case, The one that has best adapted to my lifestyle has been the Go, which, without a doubt, would be the one that I would buy.
It’s versatile, comfortable to wear, and you really get the hang of it. During the month that I have been using it, I have used it more than other Google or Amazon speakers with a screen that I have at home. The possibility that it can be used without cables for a long time (the battery performs very well) is a great point in favor, and being able to call from WhatsApp to talk with your parents or grandparents is the great reason to buy them.
In contrast, the Portal have two major problems: on the one hand the price. The 229 euros for Portal Go and the 369 euros for Portal + can make them prohibitive for many families. Not only do they compete against speakers that move like the Echo Show 10, but they also do it against tablets like the realme pad, the iPad or the Xiaomi Pad, tablets that can meet the needs of these speakers in the same price range.
On the other hand, it is the brand image. Putting a Meta device at home can still generate rejection from many users who trust Amazon or Google more than the old Facebook.