Facebook has just updated its Portal family of devices with two new entries; a portable Portal Go, and an updated Portal Plus. The new Portal Plus offers a smaller, higher resolution 14in screen, an impressive speaker array and a new tilting design, but it’s also pricier than ever at £349/$349.
Here’s all there is to know about the new Portal Plus, including pre-order and release details, pricing, features and spec.
When will the Portal Plus be released?
The new Portal Plus is available to pre-order today, 21 September 2021, with shipping due to begin a few weeks later on 19 October 2021.
How much does the Portal Plus cost?
The 14in Portal Plus, like its predecessor, is the most expensive in the Portal family, but this year’s model has seen an additional jump in price from £269/$269 to a not-insignificant £349/$349. That may be a tough pill to swallow for some, especially considering the reduction in screen size and the locked landscape orientation this time around, even if there are improvements on offer.
Here’s a look at the current Portal family:
- Portal Mini - £129/$129
- Portal TV - £149/$149
- Portal - £169/$169
- Portal Go - £199/$199
- Portal Plus - £349/$349
If you’re interested in the new Portal Plus and want to get your pre-order in ahead of launch in October, you can head to the Portal website in the UK and US right now.
Portal Plus design & features
Though the Portal family is designed primarily to connect you to your loved ones wherever they may be, the Portal Plus could be seen as the dual-purpose Portal, designed for both home and work.
Before we get into that, let’s first look at the hardware on offer from the updated Portal Plus. The most notable change is a reduction in screen size, shrinking the display from the 15.6in of its predecessor to a more compact 14in, although combining that reduced size with an increased resolution from 1920 x 1080 to 2160 x 1440, it’ll likely look much crisper than the original.
It’s not the only display-related change on offer. While the original Portal Plus was famed for its ability to work in both portrait and landscape orientations, the company found that most users had it horizontally orientated most of the time.
With that in mind, the new Portal Plus is tailored toward a landscape-only design, with no way to rotate the display. That might be a disappointment for those that prefer portrait-oriented video calls (usually with people on smartphones), especially given the rise in price compared to the original, but there is one saving grace; the display can now tilt to get a better angle depending on where you’re standing in the room.
One of the driving factors for the change, aside from the fact the portrait orientation was under-utilised, was to make the Portal Plus more compact and low-profile at 312.6mm tall. The idea is to make the big-screen device easier to fit under countertops and other small nooks and crannies in the home - a complaint of the original, which measured in at an awkward 449.8 x 145.5 x 223 mm.
The Portal Plus is also being framed as a second screen for those that work from home. As well as being able to video chat with friends and family via Messenger and WhatsApp, Portal offers compatibility with other video services including Zoom and, later this year, Microsoft Teams.
Using the built-in calendar, you can simply tap on a work meeting taking place via a supported service and join it automatically from the Portal Plus. The size and aspect ratio of the display means you can see up to 25 participants on-screen, ideal for bigger group discussions, and it provides more screen real estate for presentations too.
Delegating video chat to Portal Plus also allows you to use your laptop or PC to perform other tasks - like take notes - while still being able to see what’s going on in the meeting.
Work-focused features aside, the Portal Plus offers everything you’d expect from a Portal device, including video chat with an intelligent crop that follows you around the room, the ability to watch shows via Netflix, and with a new combination of two speakers, a woofer and two passive radiators, it should make for a decent speaker too.
It’ll sport the redesigned Portal home screen recently shipped on older Portal devices, offering a more intuitive UI with an intelligent card interface showcasing relevant information including missed calls, paused music and upcoming calendar events, as well as access to your favourite contacts via the new Contact bar.
Another new feature is Household mode, which allows those without an account on the Portal to access features like video calling and movie streaming. The new mode makes it easy for users to set up access to specific apps, contacts and data, which stops people in the home from being able to call the Portal user’s work colleagues, for example.
Facebook is also keen to offer a bevvy of privacy features to make you feel more comfortable having a camera-enabled device in the home. It offers a kill switch that physically disconnects the mic and camera when not in use, and there’s a camera shutter too - both of which can’t be affected by software. It’s also worth noting that all AR effects used on the Portal Plus are powered locally on-device, with no data sent to Facebook’s servers.
Portal Plus specs
- 14in landscape-only display
- 2160 x 1440
- 312.6mm x 250.7mm x 98.1mm
- 12Mp ultra-wide camera
- 4-mic array
- 2x speakers, 1x woofer, 2x passive radiators