Portal blog 1

Facebook Portal: What is it, why buy it, and how to be one of the first in NZ to get one

Launched in the US in October 2018, the Facebook Portal is a tablet for your home. With a smart camera and microphone which follows you around the room as you video chat, it’s selling feature is that it ‘feels like you’re in the same room’ as the person your video calling with.

Ben from our support team got one shipped over from the US (more on shipping hacks later.) Here’s Ben’s review of sharing his home with Facebook for the past month…

Why buy it?

“We decided to buy a portal as my partner works away from home quite often, and we thought being able to move around whilst we chat might make video calling feel more natural. Rather than being stuck in one spot in front of the laptop or holding a phone, we can both catch up whilst getting on with our evening, whether it’s tidying up, having dinner etc. it does feel more like we’re actually spending an evening together! We went with the portal plus which has a 15.6” display as opposed to the standard 10.1” portal.”

Easy to set up?

“Very intuitive, I didn’t need to check for instructions.”

Good points?

“We mainly bought the portal for video calling, but we like the fact it acts as a photo frame when not in use (it can pull photos for your Facebook albums and display them at random). The built-in Alexa is handy and the interactive story time feature is also quite a cool way of connecting with my nephew who lives in Ozzy.”

Bad points?

“It is a bit concerning having a Facebook camera and microphone in the living room. I found myself quite conscious of it and so disabling these features whenever I remembered it was there.”

Value for money?

“The plus was $299 US so not the cheapest tablet or smart home system, but for people in a long-distance relationship or family abroad then I think it’s a worthwhile buy.”

How did you get it shipped here from the US?

“The Portal isn’t available in NZ yet and there’s no date on when it will be, so we went ahead and ordered from the US using YouShop.”

YouShop, if you’re not familiar with it, is a service run by New Zealand Post. It provides you with a US address for delivery, and then NZ Post ships it from the US address to your home in New Zealand. The cost is $9 plus $3.50 per 500g for economy delivery. It cost Ben $144 to ship a Portal Plus to NZ.

Our advice in a nutshell: A great piece of kit for people in a long-distance relationship, or with family overseas. Unless you physically can’t wait to get your hands on one (like Ben!), hang fire until it reaches NZ, by which time the price may have continued to come down (the standard portal has already been reduced by $50 US since its launch.)

For more info on the Facebook Portal click here: https://portal.facebook.com/

For more info on YouShop click here: https://www.nzpost.co.nz/tools/youshop