The pandemic may be over but the last two years have left its mark in ways that will reverberate for decades to come.
Take tech, for instance. As we grappled with working from home alongside home-schooling, and checked in with friends and family, tech wizards were busy creating and finessing gadgets that made Staying At Home easier.
One such company was Meta, formerly known as Facebook. In the business of bringing people together since its inception in 2004, Mark Zuckerberg’s digital phenomenon has taken a giant leap forward, rolling out its first ever product – Portal.
What is Portal?
Simply put, Portal is a camera that, once connected to your TV, transforms your set into a video calling device. Forget squinting at pixelated images of friends and family on your handset’s tiny screen – Portal makes small screen stars of them all by projecting them onto the TV display in HD as high as your set can manage.
Meta’s revolutionary device means you can sit back on the sofa, make a cuppa or get on with making dinner while you chat with family and friends, as if they’re in the room with you. It’s the next best thing to physically being there.
A Portal to party
As well as one-to-one calls, you can make group calls with multiple people, making online reunions that much easier – especially helpful if your family and friends are scattered across the country or over multiple time zones. Since the device is connected to your TV, you can even watch films and TV together in real time thanks to the Group Watch function.
Never miss story time with the kids either; not only can you read to them, but Portal has tools to enhance the experience with augmented reality (AR) effects, music and animation, breathing new life into their favourite bedtime reads.
Own the room
The clever Portal camera adjusts, pans and zooms across your room and theirs, with an impressive 113-degree field of view that covers the largest of living spaces. It moves with you. So, whether the little ones are proudly showing off their latest paint-splodged artwork, or your cousin wants your opinion on their brand new rug, you can take it all in with pin-sharp clarity on your TV screen without lifting a solitary finger or craning your neck around the frame.
A far more natural way to engage with your favourite faces than staying uncomfortably fixed to a mobile phone screen or a laptop for the duration of the call, Portal is a monumental step forward in smart video calling that brings people closer together, wherever they are in the world.
Set up is a doddle – all that’s required is a Facebook or WhatsApp account and Wi-Fi.
The tech-savvy solution for remote workers
While it’s undoubtedly useful for connecting with friends and family, the more you learn about Portal, the more you uncover its massive potential. Remote workers can continue to climb the career ladder and host meetings and presentations with Portal without stepping foot inside a boardroom. Bypass the faff of screen-sharing and present your powerpoint presentation as though you’re there in person. Field questions and brainstorm with the whole room as one, saying goodbye to the juddery stop-start conversation of inferior video calling options. Out of office no longer means out of the loop.
Experience more freedom with Portal Go
As well as the TV-connected Portal device, Meta has developed the brand new Portal Go, offering more freedom to take your video call with you anywhere around the house – and beyond. A camera with a screen and a built-in battery and carry handle, Portal Go has been specifically designed to pick up and go, so you can continue to chat as you’re fixing brunch before eating it in the garden, give friends and family a tour of your newly renovated home or simply enjoy a change of scenery as you call without tripping over wires.
Portal Go has all the pan-and-zoom features of the original Portal, with added portability. Call via Whatsapp, Zoom and Messenger with a simple click or using the Alexa-enabled voice command.
Portal Go also acts as a Smart assistant, reminding you of important events like birthdays and anniversaries, mundane but necessary tasks like taking the bins out and checking the weather and latest headlines, making it an invaluable device for every kind of home.
Other devices include Portal 10″, a photo frame-shaped display which comes in black or white, and Portal Plus, a video-calling gadget with a 14-inch HD display, adjustable tilt, and integrated Smart Sound speaker.
A Portal to the future
We may be liberated from pandemic restrictions, but Meta’s Portal devices mean we can still stay in touch with the ones who matter to us the most, even as busy lives click back into play. Packed with helpful, video call-enhancing features and details, Portal helps you keep an eye on the bigger picture.
Portal TV: £149
Portal Go: £199
Portal 10″: £169
Portal Plus: £349