The great thing about video calling on a smartphone, whether you’re using FaceTime, WhatsApp or any other service, is that you can move around during the call. Maybe you chat with friends on the way to the shops, or say goodnight to the kids because you had to work late.
However, the screen of a smartphone is relatively small, making the video call not the most pleasant experience, especially if there is more than one person in the picture. The best smart screens make a great alternative device to both see and hear the other person, but it is not possible to walk around while using one.
Until now, yes. Facebook has taken the wraps off its latest smart display, the Portal Go, and in a first for a smart display, it’s powered by a rechargeable battery and has a handle so you can carry it while on a call. Great if you want to move rooms to grab something, or check on the kids without ending the conversation.
It has a 10-inch screen and the same 12MP camera as on the previous Facebook portal, which automatically pans and zooms to ensure you’re always in the center of the shot. Facebook Portal Go costs $199 / £199 / AU$279 and is available for pre-order now, with shipping on October 19.
At the same time, Facebook also unveiled a new version of its larger Portal+, which retains its 14-inch screen but has a smaller form factor, so it takes up even less space in your home. The Portal+ costs $349 / £349 / AU$519.
Call on the go
Video calling has certainly become more popular due to the pandemic. In the UK, the number of adults making video calls has increased from 35% in February 2020 to 71% in May 2020, according to Ofcom’s Online Nations Report 2020. In addition, 38% of them used a video calling service on a daily basis.
There’s no denying that video calling from a smart display is a great way to keep in touch, but it does mean you won’t be able to move during the call. Growing up with a cordless landline phone and having a cell phone since childhood, the concept of moving while on the phone is ingrained in me as it allows me to multitask. For example, I can check in with my parents while I’m cooking, or exchange jokes with my niece and nephew on the walk home from work.
The camera on the original Facebook portal could automatically pan and zoom to make sure you were always in the middle of the shot when on a video call, which certainly helped when I wanted to move around the room, perhaps to take a picture. get a new piece of clothing. wanted to show off during the conversation. In fact, it’s a feature that Apple has duplicated with the Center Stage feature, which is available on the iPad Pro (2021) and the recently announced Apple iPad 10.2 (2021). Similarly, Amazon built on this with the Echo Show 10, which has a rotating screen that will follow you around the room. However, none of these meant you could leave the room and continue a video call, without switching to another device – something the Facebook Portal Go corrects.
While Facebook hasn’t revealed the weight on the Facebook Portal Go, given that the original Portal was only 1.35kg, we can’t imagine it being much heavier than that, which is a comfortable load to carry from room to room. room to wear.
We think battery-powered smart displays will definitely make life easier when it comes to video calling, and we think all models should have it, and we’re looking forward to seeing how rivals like Google and Amazon respond.