Connection is made easier with video calls over the internet, especially for long distances between loved ones.
The newest video chatting technologies, including the Facebook Portal and Amazon’s Echo Show, have advantages and disadvantages when it comes to the elderly using them as a means to connect.
Here, we dive into the pros and cons of these new devices by Facebook and Amazon to outline which one is best suited for different senior individuals.
At first glance, it may appear that the Facebook Portal is more suited than the Echo Show for the elderly as it has less complex features that may lend to easier navigation. Despite potential software issues, elderly folks may appreciate a device that promotes simple usage. Let’s dive deeper.
Made by the social media giant Facebook. The portal requires the user to log in to a Facebook account in order to use. You can call any of your Facebook friends via Facebook messenger using the device. The virtual assistant Amazon Alexa (yes, the competitor) is built in to Facebook Portal to allow for voice commands.
- Fewer features make it easier for the elderly to navigate.
- Slideshows. upload photos from Facebook to create a moving slideshow.
- Four microphones. High-quality microphone and audio.
- Efficient. Can add recent calls to Favourites on Portal’s home screen.
- A somewhat lower quality device as a whole.
- It auto-updates out of one’s control.
- Occasional bugs in the software may interrupt certain features.
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Amazon Echo Show is a display screen with a smart speaker. It is an upgrade to the original Echo speaker. Currently, the 2nd and 3rd generations of models are available for purchase on Amazon.
The Echo Show has the Amazon Alexa assistant app built-in for voice commands.
- Excellent audio. An important factor in making or receiving video calls.
- Quality screen. Bright and lively screen.
- Portable and sleek design. Smaller version and more modern version of Alexa’s smart display.
- Sunrise alarm. Includes a snooze button and an ambient light sensor.
- As an , utilizes as , control, and .
- Integration with
- Confusing. It has many features that elderly folks may not need and may involve more effort to interface with.
- Plugin. Isn’t equipped with wireless so it has to be plugged in at all times.
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Video Call Device Features
Facebook Portal was originally priced at $299. They also have a larger device in the $300-400 price range. In comparison to the Amazon Echo Show, the Portal is more expensive. The Echo Show comes in at $129-179.
However, the Facebook Portal is currently on sale on Amazon for $149.
The Amazon Echo Show 8 HD smart display is on sale for $79.99.
Therefore, the Echo Show is the cheaper option. However, you will want to weigh the pros and cons of each device as their features pertain to you and decide if the Facebook Portal is worth the additional cost.
The Facebook Portal has the quicker setup process, making it more easily accessible to older folks. It may be more likely that elderly individuals already have a Facebook account, so that all they would need to do is to log in, helping to shorten the setup process.When unlocked, it shows your Facebook friends with indication of who is online so that you can request a video call with them.
Set up is also fairly easy on the Amazon Echo Show as well, but may take a bit longer.
Both devices come with fairly high-quality screens that are great for video calls. The Echo Show’s screen isn’t as large as that on the Facebook Portal as it is a slighter older device. However, the Echo Video chat is great, as it can send text messages to your friends.
Since Amazon carries other smart devices in the same line, the Echo Show’s apps work to connect to other smart devices (e.g. smart light bulbs) so it could turn on the lights from the apps.
In contrast, the Facebook portals apps are weaker as they have been known to glitch in voice recognition, thus diminishing the apps’ functionality.
Since these devices are more designed for video calls, apps aren’t typically a deal-breaker for many people.
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The Amazon Echo Show 8 is equipped with a smart security camera, which allows you to monitor the inside of your home at any time of the day. When you’re away from the tablet, see your family or pets in the frame so home doesn’t feel so far away.
However, the Facebook Portal has quick a recent technology feature built-in, which is that it is able to track you with facial recognition. The facial recognition enables it to zoom in if you’re not in the frame. When you move around your room, the camera can automatically follow you, making it easier for you to move around freely and multitask when on video calls.
You can also flip the screen horizontally or vertically, whereas the Echo Show stays in place.
The following video shows the main features of these smart displays and contrasts each device to explain how each may be beneficial for a certain function:
Stand Out Features
- Smart camera: Keeps every conversation at the center of the screen. It automatically pans and zooms, so you can move around and talk wherever you are and always stick inside the frame. It widens to keep everyone in the view frame.
- Privacy webpage: Its own private webpage is titled “Private by Design”, and it includes a camera and microphone off switch, a camera cover, and a screen lock. The webpage also includes videos describing features to ensure users are comfortable with the device.
- Limited access to Facebook servers: By saying “Hey Portal,” the device gets triggered where interactions are only sent to Facebook servers after the greeting is said.
- Home screen features: When the Echo Show home screen is not in use, it will show beautiful background photos, with useful information such as the weather, news, recipes, or other useful tips for using your device.
- Device grouping: You can connect the device with other smart devices (i.e., smart lights) when you log in. The same grouping will connect all smart devices together under “Your Groups”.
- Bluetooth: Can connect any phone to the Echo Show via Bluetooth to play music. The older version of an echo was a speaker, so the makers included high-quality speakers in this device that are able to play loudly.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Can a Facebook Portal and Echo Show be used to call one another?
Unfortunately, the Facebook Portal and Echo Show are not compatible for calling one another. Video calling with the Facebook Portal requires Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp, while the Echo Show uses Amazon services. Although these two products from Facebook and Amazon are currently incompatible, we cannot say when and if it will be possible sometime in the future.
Q. Are there other smart display devices that I can consider along with the Portal and Echo Show?
A number of technology companies have joined the fairly novel category of smart displays, but only some are capable of making video calls as of right now.
The most notable alternative to the Facebook Portal and Amazon Echo Show is the Nest Hub Max by Google. Google also produces the Nest Hub, its smaller sibling. However, the Nest Hub lacks a camera for video calling and has other feature limitations too.
The Max is capable of making through Google’s software suite and , which includes and Google Meet, and now also supports the highly popular Zoom. It has a 10 inch display, weighs 2.91 lbs, has stereo speakers, and runs both Android and iOS operating systems.
The Google Nest Hub Max is currently available from Google’s website in chalk and charcoal colors for $299.
Q. What are the alternatives to using a smart display device for making video calls?
As mentioned, smart displays are a fairly new product category, so some folks may not be ready to adopt it just yet.
For those without a , can also be made with fair ease from a laptop computer, desktop computer, (including ), or (including ). Do note that there are a few caveats with these devices.
Most laptop computers don’t come with very good video or audio quality, especially relative to a smart display, as the webcam and speakers have a reputation for being an afterthought for computer manufactures.
Video calls can only be made from a desktop computer if a webcam and speakers are purchased separately and plugged into the desktop computer. While most people with a desktop will already have a set of speakers, a webcam may need to be purchased.
Finally, mobile phones and tablets generally have a decent front facing and speakers, but need to be held in the hand or propped up on a stand so that it does not fall down, whereas a stands on its own. Phones and tablets like the and can utilize to contact others with Apple devices.
These caveats demonstrate that while these other devices are very capable of making video calls, smart displays specialize in this function.
Parting Words – A Quick and Convenient Tool to Keep in Touch
In this article, we looked at two displays recently released by and Amazon, two of the world’s leading technology companies.The Portal and Show have similarities, but key differences between them may sway you in one direction or another if you intend to buy one for an elderly loved one who may intend to use it mainly for with family and friends.
You can choose the Facebook Portal if:
- You (or elderly persons) have Facebook.
- You want the quickest setup.
- You want a large screen.
- You want a high-quality camera and speakers.
You can choose the Amazon Echo Show if:
- You (or elderly persons) have other smart devices to connect with.
- You like a loud speaker for music.
- You value a wider set of other features (alarm clock, apps).
- You want high-quality audio.
In conclusion, each product has its own advantages and disadvantages, with feature sets that may be valued depending on what the elderly person is looking for.
Video calling is better with a designed tablet that is quick and efficient. In our opinion, the Facebook Portal does just this – and is the best option for elderly people to use, especially if they live alone and need to set it up.
For more readings, you can also take a look at our reviews on other senior-friendly technologies such as the best android launcher, cellphone, laptop, and more.