I recently became a first-time aunt (twice over – my sister had baby Mae and my brother had baby June within a month of each other!). Since my brother’s fam lives in St. Louis, I’m always looking for ways to squeeze in quick little chances to connect and feel more like part of each others’ regular lives, despite the distance between us. Especially now that June is hitting all these fun developmental milestones (crawling! waving! saying hi!) I don’t want to miss a single one of them.

When our friends at Facebook sent us the Portal+ to try out, I was excited to see if its Smart Camera would make our video chats feel more like we were in the same room. We got one sent to June’s house, too, which was the perfect gift to celebrate my sister-in-law Beth’s first Mother’s Day. Scroll on for a peek at our experience chatting on the Portal, and read more about how I’m using it to share everyday moments with the people I love.

I spend a ton of time in the kitchen — no surprise there — so I decided it would be the perfect place to set up my Portal+. Now, catching up with loved ones is easier than ever. The Voice Control function means I can give my sister-in-law a ring when my hands are covered in pasta sauce, even if it’s just to say hello for 3 minutes. You’re probably wondering, “What if the person on the other end doesn’t have a Portal?” No worries there. You can make and receive calls to and from your Facebook friends using the Facebook Messenger app.

What I’ve found to be most impressive about the Portal from Facebook is the Smart Camera. You’ve almost got to see it to believe it, but the best way I can describe it is: imagine that a camera man with the world’s steadiest hand was manning the camera, framing the subject, and zooming in and out. That’s what this AI-powered camera does on it’s own! Smart Camera keeps you in frame as you move around the room, and even widens as people enter the scene. Suddenly holding my shaky smartphone feels so clunky.

For a limited time only, the Portal starts at $99, making it my number one pick for a Mother’s Day present this year. With one for you and one for mom, you can stay connected from afar. Can you imagine? The days of passing around a smartphone or chasing your kids around the living room to talk to their grandparents are over. This device brings video calling seamlessly into your home, making it easier to connect with loved ones and share the little everyday moments that relationships are built on.

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