I first noticed the new Facebook Portal when I saw the Mother’s Day commercials with Neil Patrick Harris and the moms of famous people.  View the Mother’s Day commercial. 

A photo of the small Facebook Portal, showing a man with a small child in his lap on the screen and a bigger Facebook Portal Plus with a woman reading a book on the screen.
Facebook Portal and Portal+

I was more than a little skeptical about the actual use of this device because I really like the Echo Show with its many cool features.  Basically, the Facebook Portal and Facebook Portal + are in-home hands-free video calling devices to connect you with friends and family via Facebook Messenger.  When I got the Portal + to test, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to set up.  

For the blog, I want to give you my general impressions of the Portal and then include the accessibility features.  The accessibility features are impressive for such a new device.  See for yourself.

General Impressions

What I like about Portal

  • Easy to set up and easy to use
  • Two options: Portal with a 10.1-inch screen for $199; Portal+ with a 15.6-inch screen for $349A photo of a Facebook Portal Plus screen with icons for selections within the Portal.
  • Voice calling by saying, “Hey Portal, call Beth Bakke Stenehjem.”
  • Ability of camera to track a person as they move around the room, 140-degree view
  • Ability to cover the camera with a plastic shield if worried about privacy.
  • Rotation of Portal+ screen from landscape to portrait
  • Compatible with Alexa when someone wants to ask the weather or informational questions of Alexa.  It does not seem to work with certain smart home skills on Alexa that you would find on the Echo Show, such as requesting to see the kitchen camera.
  • Passcode protection can be used to prevent others from using the device
  • Storytime mode is really fun when reading stories to kids.  It includes music, animation, and virtual reality effects.
  • Display of photos from Facebook as a screensaver
  • Accessibility features: see below
  • Four Facebook accounts can be used, and you are able to have a group call of up to seven people. Adding additional Facebook users to the same Portal product will combine contacts.

What could be improved

  • Limited to applications on the device; cannot add applications
  • Facebook in the past does not have a good record of security; some users may worry about who is listening.
  • Users must have an account on Facebook.  The Portal does not allow someone to use Skype.  The caller and the person being called must have accounts with Facebook, and they must have Facebook Messenger if they want to receive calls from Portal on their smartphone or tablet.
  • Does not have a headphone jack, USB jack, or SD reader 
  • Cannot use Messenger Kids setting to call or be called

Accessibility Settings on Portal

  • Display

    • Font Size
      • Small
      • Default
      • Large
      • Largest
    • High Contrast Text (Toggle switch on/off) – If on, there is black color surrounding white letters
    • Color Inversion (Toggle switch on/off) – Print can be changed from white letters on a black background to black letters on a white background.
    • Color Correction
      • None
      • Deuteranomaly (red-green)
      • Protanomaly (red-green)
      • Tritanomaly (blue-yellow)
    • Triple-tap for Magnification (Toggle switch on/off) If turned on, it allows a person to tap the screen three times to magnify or triple-tap the screen to go back without magnification
    • Touch and Hold Delay
      • Short
      • Medium
      • Long

Screen Reader

  • Vision Accessibility Options (Toggle switch on/off) – If turned on, TalkBack automatically goes on)
    • TalkBack Volume
      • Pitch
      • Rate
      • Sound Feedback (Toggle switch on/off)
      • Sound Feedback Volume
      • Bluetooth Headset Mode (Enable in General>Bluetooth)

Closed Captions

  • Captions (Toggle switch on/off) – If turned on, the captions will appear for news, videos that already have that capability, and the Facebook Portal Help videos.  It will not caption your calls.
  • Captions Font
    • Very Small
    • Small
    • Normal
    • Large
    • Largest
  • Captions Style
    • White on Black
    • Black on White
    • Yellow on Black
    • Yellow on Blue

 Conclusion

I enjoyed playing with the Portal+ much more than I thought I would.  It definitely has the ability to connect family and friends who live far apart or who are unable to see each other often.  There are so many fun options such as the Storytime program or the artificial reality masks.  I was also impressed by the many accessibility options already built in for such a new device.   The Facebook Portal is worth a consideration if you and your family already use Facebook to keep in touch.