A Look at the Facebook Portal

by Dave Michels

I continue down my pandemic-inspired path of reviewing video solutions, this time with the Facebook Portal. I previously took a look at the Poly Eagle Eye webcam and the Cisco Desk Pro, there’s more to come.

The Facebook Portal is one of the nicest video endpoints I have ever used. I like it so much that I’ve recommended it to to several Grandmas.  It’s a built-for-purpose device for Facebook Messenger with some serious chops.  I have no interest in Facebook Messenger, nor do most enterprises. However, the Portal just might be what the Chairman ordered. The Portal can be used on Workplace by Facebook today, and will soon support apps for Bluejeans by Verizon, Cisco, LogMeIn, and Zoom. It was a surprising twist that so many enterprise brands would support the Portal, but it makes a lot of sense as it’s a very capable and cost effective endpoint.

It’s actually a good deal for everyone. The customer gets a capable and versatile device for a low price. The video providers get an entry-level video device available through open distribution. Facebook gets more volume for its device, and many users may end up enjoying it on Facebook, and/or Workplace by Facebook. The obvious concern is if Facebook can collect enterprise information for its Portal users. I can’t say anything definitive on that. I did ask the Zoom CISO what types of data Facebook obtains from Zoom meetings on the Portal and was assured none.

Unfortunately there’s an embarrassing problem with my video review. Autofocus on my camera sometimes gets confused, so I turned it off and then forgot to manually re-focus the camera during the demo part of the video. That means some of the most interesting shots are a bit blurry, including my special guest star Tim Banting.  I sincerely apologize for this to you, to Facebook, and to Tim. The Portal is a beautiful device that deserves to be seen. Perhaps I will fix in the future, but I wanted to get this posted.

In this demo I used Facebook Messenger. The Zoom client is already available for the Portal, and more clients are expected this year.

Demo 2:30
Tim Call: 3:30
Unboxing: 6:38
Highs and Lows: 9:20

Facebook promotional video: