I recently wrote a review of Facebook Portal for those who are considering a purchase. On this page, I’ll just give you a quick overview, and then comment specifically on how well I think it would work for online childbirth preparation classes.
The Facebook Portal is a video-chatting device. You can also use it for streaming or surfing the web, but it was primarily designed as a device for teleconferencing software such as Facebook Messenger, What’s App, and now Zoom. (Not for Teams or Skype)
Zoom works fairly well on the Portal, although it does not have a few of the features you’ll find on your app on your computer – you don’t appear to be able to run breakout rooms or do polls from it. You also don’t seem to be able to share directly from the Portal, but you can easily share from another device without having to log it in to Zoom. See the full review for more details.
Audio Video Quality
It’s got really good speakers, multiple microphones and a camera with good video quality. The camera has movement tracking software, which follows you if you move around the room. I was hopeful that this would be good for birth classes, providing a better view of comfort techniques than I can manage with my laptop.
It turned out, as you can see in the second video, that the motion tracking did not work well for this purpose. The camera focuses around your face, so when you’re trying to demo foot placement for a lunge, the camera will show you from the waist up or even shoulders up.
You can do manual control of the camera, where you can zoom in or out, and aim it where you want it, so you can create just a nice wide angle that shows most of your body. It looks better and sounds better than it does when I use my laptop’s webcam. You’ll see this in the second video.
Using for Birth Classes
Here’s how things look on the Portal – the first part of the video has the camera using motion tracking – the second part is manual control. You’ll notice even in the still images here that the color and picture quality is much better on the Portal than on my Lenovo laptop.
The Portal experience is not a game changer, and I wouldn’t necessarily run out to purchase one. However, if the price ($129 – 179 in November 2020) is manageable, I think the improved audio / video quality and the ability to get the wide-angled shot offer some appealing benefits for me.
For more info on using Zoom
I have LOTS of tutorials about how to use Zoom – for brand new beginners, experienced hosts, musicians, preschool teachers and more. Check out: https://janelledurham.com/guide-to-zoom/.
Note: the links to products in this post are affiliate links. If you click through to Amazon and purchase anything, I will get a percentage of the revenue. That helps support my work writing this blog and others.