Want big-screen video calls with friends and family? Grab the Portal TV for just $99

·2 min read

Yahoo Life has received compensation to create this article, and receives commission from purchases made via links on this page. Pricing and availability are subject to change.

The Portal TV is just over seven inches long, so it looks larger here than it really is.
The Portal TV installs on nearly any TV to deliver big-screen Messenger, WhatsApp and Zoom calls. (Photo: Facebook)

Here's the thing about video calls: They're small, especially on a phone or tablet. And the more people you have on a Zoom or Facebook Messenger call, the smaller each person looks.

Then there's the issue of having to stay firmly planted in front of the camera — not ideal if you want to move around the room while on your call.

Enter the Portal TV, a clever device that turns any TV into a big-screen video-call appliance. It normally sells for $149, but right now, QVC has the Facebook Portal TV for $99. That's $50 off the regular price. And if you're new to QVC, you'll get an extra $15 off with code OFFER.

$99 $149 at QVC

One quick note: Although Facebook is in the process of rebranding itself as Meta, both the product page and product itself still bear the Facebook name — so that's how I'll refer to it.

The Portal looks like a long, low-slung webcam. It's designed to clip to the top of your TV, but it can sit beneath the screen if you prefer. Either way, you'll need to BYO HDMI cable. For reasons I can't quite understand, Facebook doesn't supply one. If you don't have a spare lying around, QVC has this Digital Basics 6-foot HDMI cable you can toss into your shopping cart.

That wrinkle aside, setup is a breeze thanks to a simple, automatically paired remote and helpful onscreen instructions. At a minimum you'll need a Facebook account; the Portal can also work with WhatsApp and Zoom, though the latter gets added later from a mini app-store.

Although the Portal TV incorporates a fixed-frame camera, it uses digital panning and zooming to help you stay "in the frame" as you move around. That same digital-assist kicks in if there are multiple people in front of the lens. In my tests, all this worked extremely well; the tracking was fast and accurate, and the 12-megapixel camera produced razor-sharp images (far better than what you get from any laptop, tablet or webcam).

The aforementioned app store also includes streaming services like Hulu, Netflix and Spotify, meaning the Portal TV can double as a sort of poor-man's Roku. (You don't get anywhere near the app selection, but most of the big ones are there.)

At a time when many families are separated by distance, Covid concerns or both, the Portal TV makes it seem like you're all in the same room. At $99, it's a pretty sweet deal — provided you don't have privacy- and/or politics-related objections to Facebook.

$99 $149 at QVC

Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for nonstop inspiration delivered fresh to your feed, every day.

Want daily pop culture news delivered to your inbox? Sign up here for Yahoo Entertainment & Life's newsletter.