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With travel and family visits still difficult for many during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, finding creative ways to stay connected is more important than ever. A typical phone call with grandma and grandpa across the country isn’t quite cutting it — so the tech industry has been hard at work to help us make up for lost time.
The days of stiff arms from holding a phone to your face are over. A new portable system on Amazon makes video calling easier, comfier and way more personal — and it’s on sale.
SHOP IT: Amazon, $148 (originally $179)
What is it?
The Facebook Portal Mini Smart Video Calling system is a compact, aesthetically pleasing gadget (that comes in black and white) that’s winning buyers’ hearts by making video calling a breeze as it automatically pans and zooms to keep you in frame at all times. The best part? Whoever you’re calling doesn’t even need to have their own Facebook Portal.
The new, sleek design comes in 8” and 10” frames and has a built-in Alexa, making all of its incredible functions completely hands-free. When you’re not calling up your family, you can control your smart home, check who’s at your door, listen to your favourite music and catch up on the news.
When it’s not being used, the smart system can be set up to display Facebook, Instagram and smartphone camera roll photos.
Why shoppers love it
With an average 4.4 out of 5-star rating on more than 200 reviews, it’s no wonder shoppers are flocking to snag the Facebook Portal Mini Smart Video Calling and stay even more connected to their loved ones. According to the reviews, this gadget is a “great addition” to any household.
“So simple, and much better than holding a small phone in your hand,” one shopper wrote. “It's like inviting people home.”
Most of the system’s highest ratings commend the gadget for being a great way for keeping in touch with people, adding that access to additional applications like WhatsApp, Crave and Spotify make it extra worth the buy.
However, it’s not all positive reviews for this nifty device.
Some reviewers commented that making outgoing calls was complicated. Another took issue with the fact that the Facebook portal didn’t include access to the full Facebook app, only Messenger, adding that if you’re disconnected from a group message, you can’t rejoin without being invited back in.
“The invites are hit and miss,” one reviewer wrote. “My phone will get an invite to join a video chat, but my portal sits quiet.”
While most of the reviews commended the smart calling system for making staying connected much easier, others were let down by its lack of additional apps and glitching when it came to joining group calls. But is Smart Camera feature, that automatically pans and zooms, combined with being able to control your smart home makes the discount price worthy of giving a shot and investing in.
The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.