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Fun Ways To Video Chat With Friends & Family

April 28, 2020

This post is sponsored by Portal from Facebook. We are so grateful to the brands that support The Mama Notes and keep us in business! Facebook provided Portal devices and compensation for this post but all opinions are my own.

 If you’re anything like our family you’ve spent the past few weeks connecting with your friends and family on the phone or with video chats. It’s hard to get toddlers to sit still or focus for these calls sometimes, so we were excited about the opportunity to partner with Portal from Facebook to share how we are using it to make our video chats more engaging and fun! 

Let’s chat about Portal for a minute first…. Now, I consider myself to be pretty technologically savvy but I’m not one to get overly excited about new devices or gadgets, that’s my husband Austin’s department. However, Portal has changed me! It’s made our video calls so much easier and more fun and does so much more than just that! We have the 10” Portal that sits on our kitchen counter which I like because it is totally hands-free and has Alexa built-in. This means I can ask questions, play music and podcasts. The magic of the Portal devices come into play with its Smart Camera which automatically pans and zooms to keep you centered and focused in the frame while widening and expanding the view if other people enter the room. You can easily have natural, hands-free conversations while you go about your business – putting away dishes, cooking dinner, cleaning up toys…taking care of #momlife! 

Other features we’ve been excited about with our Portal are the group calling feature (up to 7 people can join a call using Messenger) and the Story Time feature which allows your kids to listen to you tell stories in an interactive and fun way. When not in use, it allows you to display your Facebook or Instagram photos!  Something else you should know about Portal from Facebook is that both people on the call don’t need to have a Portal, so if your parents or friends don’t have one you can still use your Portal to communicate with them using Messenger or WhatsApp. 

Alright and now for some fun ideas on how to use smart video calling when you’re keeping in touch with friends and family…

  • Make a stage and let your kids perform! Practice a dance or a play beforehand, put on costumes and if you’re feeling crafty use cardboard boxes to make a stage! 
  • Have a dance party! We recently did this and had so much fun!! 
  • Eat dinner together, set the table, get out of your sweatpants and pretend you are going out to dinner! 
  • Or, try having a virtual tea party! This is a great idea for playdates! 
  •  Read a Story Time story together with fun AR masks and effects.
  • Try a virtual game of hide & seek. A grandparent can tell you where to hide a favorite toy or snack and then give your kids clues on where to find it over video chat! 
  • Sing-a-long your favorite songs or master some new ones together

There’s no doubt we are living in challenging times, but I’m so grateful for new technology like Portal from Facebook that’s allowing us to keep in touch as best we can until we can hug our loved ones in person. 

Portal can be used to supplement reading by listening to podcasts, audiobooks, and through the Story Time feature. Story Time allows you to bring your children’s favorite stories to life. With Story Time, you can become some of your children’s favorite storybook characters as you read along to well-loved tales. Immersive music, animation and augmented reality (AR) effects bring them to life like never before. Portal and Portal Mini  have front porting stereo speakers for rich hi-fi sound to provide the best sound whether you’re on a call or listening to music.You can also read Story Time stories while you’re together in the same room so you can share the AR magic of Story Time, even if you’re sitting right next to each other.  It can reinforce a child’s love of music by seeing song lyrics and album art with Amazon Music or listening to favorite Spotify, Pandora and iHeartRadio music.

About the Different Portal from Facebook Devices 

The Portal from Facebook family includes four different devices that allow you to choose the one that’s perfect for your home:

Portal TV ($149)— With a screen as big as your TV and 120° field of view, Portal TV uses your home sound system for smart video calling on your TV. With Portal TV, you can enjoy Facebook Watch together with friends as if you’re in the same room and other features such as Story Time, AR experiences, and more on the biggest screen in your home. It can be mounted on your TV or placed below and used with an included remote.

Portal Starting at $129 – Portal features smart video calling features on a 10” HD adaptive display that matches lighting and color of your room. The front-porting stereo speakers and a rear woofer provide great sound while the camera has a 114° field of view. Portal allows you to enjoy features like Story Time, AR experiences in portrait or landscape mode.

Portal Mini Starting at $79 – Portal Mini has all of the same features as Portal, but with a 8” HD adaptive display for a smaller footprint. 

Portal + Starting at $229 – With a 15.6” HD rotating screen, Portal+ is the largest device in the Portal from Facebook family. It includes all the same features as the devices listed above but its Smart Camera has a 140° field of view and an array of 2” tweeters and a 4” woofer provide deep bass for rich sound. This touchscreen device rotates to stand to portrait or landscape.

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  1. Rebecca says:

    I love the idea of a virtual tea party! My daughter will be thrilled to try that out.

  2. Masey says:

    Looks so fun! I’ve never heard of portal before- will totally check it out!

  3. Casey says:

    love these ideas!

  4. My brother gave all of us siblings and our parents Portal TVs for Christmas. We have now been joking that with the quarantine it was the gift of the year! It honestly has been an amazing way to stay in touch with family during this. We also love the story time feature and it makes me happy to see my toddler son interact with family when we can’t physically see them! So glad you are having a similar experience!
    xoxo, Jenna
    Bostonchicparty.com