Reviewing the Facebook Portal vs Echo Show
It’s clear that facebook is trying to play catch up in the smart home game with the facebook portal but the problem is they are coming to the market with a product years after Amazon launched the the Amazon Echo Show with it’s smart display and even longer after the original launch of the Amazon Echo smart speaker.
The first and most obvious tell that the Facebook Portal is playing catch up, is that the speaker is powered by Amazon Alexa the very same smart technology they are trying to compete against. It’s kind of like GM trying to power their new Corvette with a Tesla Motor and Battery.
Size, Shape & Form Factor: Facebook Portal vs Echo Show - TIE
The Facebook Portal and Echo Show are essentially the same size and look almost the same. They both have 10.1” screens and have an almost identical form factor. If you didn’t know that they were made by two different companies you would just think they are different models of the same device.
Cost: Facebook Portal vs Echo Show - Tie
At it’s launch the Facebook Portal retailed for $199 and the price of the new Echo Show is always changing based on promotions that Amazon is running but typically the Echo Show is in somewhere around the two hundred dollar range sometimes a little less or a little more. With the price being close for both of these products, it’s not a huge factor in deciding which device is best for you.
Display: Facebook Portal vs Echo Show - Tie
The displays are nearly identical, are they actually identical? We’ll never know but they sure look the same. Look at this side by side comparison of the Facebook Portal and Echo Show, do they really look that different? We don’t think so. The Facebook Portal has the speaker array on the bottom of the display, that makes the forward facing profile of the Facebook Portal slightly taller than the Echo Show. The Echo Show positions the speakers on the backside of the display which provides a cleaner front profile for the Echo Echo. If you look at the comparison chart above you can see that they both have identical size displays the only real difference is that facebook choose to mount the speaker on the front of the device and Amazon chose the back of the device.
What Can You Do With An Echo Show?
With the Echo Show you can listen to music, watch videos including all amazon prime movies, set timers, get weather updates, control your smart home and view your smart home cameras or doorbells. You can also have video chats with other family members that have a compatible Amazon Echo device.
The Echo Show also has a built in Zigbee smart home hub which the Facebook Portal is lacking.
With the built in smart home hub on new Amazon Echo Show if you want to connect philips hue light bulbs or other Zigbee devices you don't need to purchase a separate philips hue hub, you can just buy the phillips hue bulbs and connect them directly to alexa. However even though you can connect philips hue bulbs directly to alexa, long term if you want to control your smart home lighting with voice you should install a smart home switch as it is a permanent solution that will add value to your home. The issue with installing philips hue light bulbs in light sockets is that if someone turns off your light switch the phillips hue bulb will not longer have power or connectivity and you won't be able to control the phillips hue bulb, this is the most common complaint with using philips hue bulbs. However they are a quick simple solution if you are renting your apartment and want to easily add smart home control.
Privacy: Facebook Portal vs Echo Show
Facebook……you know their history, you know their problem with privacy which is really what makes bringing a Facebook Powered smart speaker feel more like an ever present peeping tom than a smart assistant there to help you.
Amazon has always considered privacy first in the design of their products because the currency of Amazon is providing you with great customer service, reliability and outstanding prices. Amazon has a store for you to purchase things, and Amazon wants to sell you hardware like the Echo Show but it also wants to sell you all the other pieces of hardware that can connect to their Echo Show and other Echo devices.
Amazon wants to make your life easier in every aspect they interact with you, so you will buy more things. On top of that they will also probably help you find the best deal for what you are looking for and it will arrive on your doorstep in 2 days or sometimes in just a few hours without you ever needing to stand in a line, brave bad weather or slow traffic.
What is the currency of Facebook? Facebook doesn’t have a store, a warehouse, they don’t sell cloud storage space or web services and they don’t deliver packages. So how does facebook make money?
Hint: They are selling your information to serve you custom advertisements tailored to your interests. That is what creates the fundamental problem with the Facebook Portal vs the Echo Show. They are essentially the same devices but powered by the exact same technology (Alexa) but they companies behind them have two entirely different motivations.
One needs your information to serve you more and more tailored advertisements and in return it’s not really clear what you get other than an endless feed of graduations, baby pictures, engagement announcements, food photos, travel photos, and of course millions of comments about every topic anyone could ever think. Now they want to give you a bigger facetime screen, with far less privacy than apple.
The other (Amazon) already has your credit card and knows you’ll spend money as long as they keep delivering great customer service, reliable delivery times and competitive prices. They don’t want to breach your trust because just like Walmart they know over 30 years your going to spend a lot of money on Amazon.com. In fact most prime members spend an average of $1300 per year on Amazon.
If you are a Facebook or Instagram super user you might not care about the Facebook’s privacy history. In order to get the most value out of the Facebook portal your friends and family that you are communicating with should also have a facebook portal if you want to use the full features of the video calling. To use the portal however you friends and family that you want to talk to will also need to have a Facebook account, which not everyone you want to talk to will have.
Facebook Portal Vs Echo Show Summary:
The Facebook Portal shares many of the same features and specifications as the Echo Show, and is even powered by Amazon Alexa technology. While Facebook executed a good piece of hardware I don’t believe it offers compelling advantages over the Amazon Echo Show at this time. The Echo Show has all the same features, without some of the digital privacy concerns some people might have with the Facebook Portal. The one feature that differentiates the Facebook Portal is it’s auto focus and auto tracking technology that automatically zooms’ in and follows whoever is talking to the portal, it’s a neat feature but it’s a software implementation that Google or Amazon could therofterically copy in the future if users really found it useful.
I personally have an Echo Show, Echo Spot, Google Home & multiple other Echo Devices in my home and they have made my life much easier with voice control of my smart home system. The Echo devices have been reliable and work great with the smart home devices I have in my home. At this point I don’t see a reason to add a Facebook Portal to the mix.
In order to use the full functionality of the Facebook Portal your friends and family that you want to communicate with, need to also have a Facebook Portal and I don’t know a single person that has one of these devices as of November 2018, and if they do have it they haven’t told me about it yet.
The Amazon Echo Show also allows video chats but in reality you use that less than 1% of the time, I more often use the Echo Show to play music, show me the weather and control my smart home. So a device like the Facebook Portal that was purpose built to provide video chat seems like more of a fringe use case than what most people use smart speaker displays for.
If I was considering getting another Smart Speaker with a screen I would choose the Echo Show because of its reliability, versatility and ever expanding growth of features and skills.
Now just because I didn’t give the Facebook Portal a thrilling review, it doesn’t mean that I’m not open to giving it a chance, but if you have a had a positive or negative experience with the Facebook Portal please let us know as we would love to hear and share your thoughts. I know that thousands of people already have Amazon Echo Show’s in their homes and have been very happy with them based on my personal experience and the thousands of positive reviews the Echo Show gets on Amazon. As of writing this post in November of 2018 the Facebook Portal has only 2 reviews on Amazon. The Amazon Echo Show first & second generation have over 16,000 combined reviews on Amazon.com