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Try Facebook Portal Go: a battery-powered assistant for WhatsApp and Messenger

Try Facebook Portal Go: a battery-powered assistant for WhatsApp and Messenger

Facebook abandons the appearance of “photo frame” for this new version of the Portal. No foundation is provided, the device is self-sufficient. On this occasion, it is impossible to place it as we see fit, it must be installed horizontally.

The Portal Go adopts a very different aesthetic from the previous version, which could be oriented vertically or horizontally.

On the other hand, it follows you from room to room thanks to its handle and built-in battery. Simply put it on your station to fully charge it, in order to benefit from 5 hours of video calls or 14 hours of audio playback; in any case, this is what Facebook advertises. The circular tip of the docking station is not very ergonomic and does not systematically load the device. We would have preferred a magnetic system to facilitate the positioning of the smart display on its base.

Battery performance is very noticeable for this type of product, even if the charging tip is not the most ergonomic.

Battery performance is very noticeable for this type of product, even if the charging tip is not the most ergonomic.

Dressed in gray fabric, the Portal Go hides a sound system made up of three speakers. On its edges, two tweeters produce high-pitched sounds; behind him, a woofer takes care of the serious. The device retains its 10.1-inch screen and its four microphones, already present in the Portal standard. Its appearance, however, makes it difficult to read or navigate on the screen, the latter obviously does not tilt.

The Portal Go is compact and its format simplifies transport.

The Portal Go is compact and its format simplifies transport.

A power button is placed on the back of the smart screen, while three other controls are present on the top of the device. Two of them allow you to adjust the sound level and the third disables the microphone and the camera.
And if that’s not enough, you can manually slide a somewhat crude cover in front of the lens. A reassuring option for some users, especially after scandale Cambridge Analytica that shook Facebook in 2018.

The controls, positioned at the top of the screen, can be operated while the user is wearing the device.

The controls, positioned at the top of the screen, can be operated while the user is wearing the device.

Anyway, the Portal Go retains its appeal, which is none other than its smart camera (it went from 13 Mpx to 12 Mpx in this model). With a 125 ° field of view, it follows the user in their movements so that they remain in the frame. Also, the camera zooms in and out to adapt this frame to the number of speakers present.

Once the camera is revealed, the microphone is automatically activated.

Once the camera is revealed, the microphone is automatically activated.

Features and applications

In total, four different profiles can be installed on the smart display, each with its own contacts and preferences. To maintain a bit of privacy, it is also possible to limit access to this information using a four-digit code; you can also set a second to unlock the screen.

It is possible to lock the smart screen with a code.

It is possible to lock the smart screen with a code.

When you connect Portal Go for the first time, the device installs the latest available update. And like a smartphone or tablet, you need to connect the smart display to the Wi-Fi network for the download to start. Connection that the device sometimes loses unexpectedly.

Then a waltz of identification requests to the networks begins. First of all, Facebook, WhatsApp and Workplace (Facebook’s professional network). Obviously, it is possible to reject certain connections, but the device loses its usefulness and its main advantage is video calls.

The user must consult the social networks that interest him.

The user must consult the social networks that interest him.

Once identified, the user finds their contacts on the smart screen and can identify some as favorites. In Messenger, calls can include up to 8 people, when WhatsApp includes 4, user included. During the call you can activate different options: use filters, read stories, play together, etc. Please note that it is also not possible to send written messages through these platforms; which we believe is very deficient.

Even during a call, Portal Go follows you on the move and can be placed anywhere in the house.

Even during a call, Portal Go follows you on the move and can be placed anywhere in the house.

Portal Go also asks you to log into Amazon. Why ? Because once again, it is the voice assistant Alexa, developed by the American giant, which was chosen by Facebook to integrate its Portal range. The user can ask you to set an alarm clock, give you the weather forecast or turn on the radio. Alexa can also be used as an interface to control connected equipment in the house. But the use of the voice assistant is not the most intuitive. For example, when Alexa starts the radio, it is not possible to change the frequency. Therefore, you have to ask for a specific radio from the beginning. Once started, the radio plays in the background, but the window disappears from the screen. You then need to display the drop-down menu at the bottom of the screen to access it or ask Alexa to stop the radio. The same goes for the alarm functionality. Once the time is up, the Portal Go begins to ring, but no window appears on the screen and it is impossible to stop the alarm clock with the Portal commands: only Alexa can stop the massacre.

And to use basic applications, network identification requests are resumed. These are the photos published on Facebook that appear in the album or those of your Instagram account. Otherwise, it is also possible to transfer photos from a smartphone using the Portal application. A somewhat outdated system that reminds us of how iTunes works. The same applies to the calendar: the user has the option to connect to their Google Calendar or Outlook.

In addition to these main applications, it is possible to download others. Among them, Zoom, BlueJeans, Webex and soon Microsoft Teams complete the video conferencing experience. They bring a professional dimension to using Portal Go, which can take on the role of a second screen on your desktop. Applications to follow the news are also available for download; as well as music applications with Spotify, Deezer and Tidal.

But the list of the absentees is long, too long. Instagram, which Facebook has bought yet, does not have its application on Portal Go. There is no video on demand service (MyCanal, Prime Video, Molotov) or YouTube application either, while the 10.1-inch screen would be enough to watch series and videos. It also lacks some VOIP services like Skype. The smart screen offers shortcuts to these platforms, somewhat unnecessary, it must be said, since they simply redirect to the browser. Note that theAmazon Echo Show 10 you have Netflix and Molotov services on your screen.

All downloaded applications and shortcuts are grouped in the tab

All downloaded applications and shortcuts are grouped under the “Applications” tab.

Finally, we also regret the lack of fluidity of the smart display during certain orders. Latencies slow down the experience, whether it’s scrolling through photos, opening an app, exiting it, or even unlocking the device. The unintuitive interface does not improve this experience. We find ourselves several times having to look for a basic functionality, easily accessible in other devices in this range.

Screen

The Portal Go abandons the large black stripes that the Portal used to display. The new version features a 10.1-inch screen that displays 800 x 1280 px and offers the ability to automatically adjust the brightness according to the device’s environment. With a temperature reaching 6459K, the smart display performs much better than its predecessor and is close to the expected 6500K (video standard). Colorimetry is also improved in this model. Our probe reveals a Delta E of 4; knowing that below 3, the eye is not able to detect the colorimetric drift.

Therefore, this smart display has a well-calibrated display, which can be improved. The glitches persist in certain colors, such as blue and magenta, which are too dull.

Colorimetric deviations are observed on the Portal Go screen.

Colorimetric deviations are observed on the Portal Go screen.

On the other hand, there was no improvement in reflectance, which reached 55.7%; knowing that a mirror reaches 100%. For comparison, the reflectance rate of theIpad mini it is only 26% and offers pleasant reading conditions, indoors or in the sun.

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