Note: BuzzFeed News may collect affiliate fees from the Amazon links here. However, this is a product that we have genuinely tested and recommended several times without affiliate links in the past, and we mean it when we say: This is a good deal.
Look, we’re not proud of being Eiffel Towered by two ethically dubious tech giants as we make this recommendation, but as journalists, we’re willing to degrade ourselves to bring you the facts. The harsh truth is that the Meta Portal is a great consumer device, and right now it’s on sale for Amazon Prime Day for just $35, the lowest price ever. And you should buy one.
The $35 price is for the older model iPad-sized 10-inch Portal, marked down from $179 (although it’s had sale prices around 50% off in the past). Other models are also down for Prime Day, but not nearly as cheap. The Portal Go, which is the only model you can use not plugged into the wall, is 35% off, and the Portal TV that uses your TV as the screen is also discounted to $57. Both have their advantages, but in our opinion, go for the $35 cheapie.
If you think Meta is evil and you don’t want to give it your money, we don’t really have an answer for that. Fair enough, go with God, live your truth. However, if you are open to the idea that hey, you use Instagram enough that the advertising dollars spent on your account personally have earned Mark Zuckerberg a few bottles of reef-safe zinc sunscreen anyway, and that sometimes life under capitalism means occasionally making choices where you’re like, “Aaah, fuck it, I just want this neat thing that makes my life 5% better,” then let us convince you.
The big selling point with the Portal is its smart camera, which can follow you as you move around the room and can zoom in and out and reframe itself when more than one person is in the frame. This may sound creepy, but it’s really cool. It completely solves the problem of two people sitting side by side, trying to squish both their faces into the view of a laptop or phone camera, and it’s great for a little kid moving around. (And no, Facebook isn’t watching you through the camera.)
For a whole bunch of obvious reasons, the Portal didn’t exactly blow up as the hottest consumer gadget. (In our opinion, price was a huge factor — it was too expensive for people to pay for a dedicated video calling device! But at $35? Why not!)
In June, Meta announced it’s phasing out the Portal line marketed to consumers and refocusing on selling to businesses. The newer Portal Plus is more like a dedicated Zoom device for remote workers, not fun family chats. Presumably, the $35 deal at Amazon is Meta trying to blow out the last of its inventory.