Facebook announce Portal Video Calling Device

See Facebook's first hardware product

Facebook announce Portal Video Calling Device

Facebook representatives prefer to talk about their "mission" rather than business models and profits, but wireless speakers and video calls are a growing market.

Since this is Facebook we're talking about, many folks are likely concerned about the question of privacy when it comes to Facebook Portal.

Portal, and a larger 15-inch Portal+ model, is billed by Facebook has a smart home device created to let users make calls to friends and family. The Portal+, on the other hand, has a 15-inch Full HD display that actually pivots, just in case you want to do stuff in portrait mode.

Pre-orders are available from Facebook right now, with the smaller Portal being priced at $199 and the Portal+ coming in at $349.

Portal runs on the open-source version of Google's Android mobile operating system, similar to many Amazon devices.

Portal integrates Amazon's Alexa voice assistant to handle search queries, and Amazon collects audio files of requests made to Alexa.

Portal locks with a passcode, and its microphones and camera shuts off with the tap of a button.

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Facebook on Monday launched a range of AI-powered video-calling devices, a strategic revolution for the social network giant in its bid for a slice of a market now dominated by Amazon and Google.

The display is available in two sizes; the standard Portal looks a lot like the Echo Show, whereas the Portal Plus is much larger. The company also incorporated its Spark AR platform into each device so users can video chat with custom sound and visual effects (a Snapchat-esque feature dubbed Story Time). That means you can easily start a video call within Facebook Messenger, or you can watch the various content on Facebook's own video streaming service, Facebook Watch. If not, you'll want to avoid Portal, its new smart displays focused on video chat.

Facebook is rolling out its first-ever tech gadget - and it's every bit as creepy as you'd expect.

However, to address potential security concerns about Portal (aside from the general rising distrust of Facebook), Facebook says the Portal's microphones and camera feature an option that will "physically" disconnect those components, and the company has installed an indicator light that glows red so you know they're off.

But the Portal, reportedly delayed from an earlier launch by the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, will pay an extra price for Facebook's years of playing fast and loose with our privacy.

Another feature is Smart Camera, which uses artificial intelligence and the devices' cameras to perfectly frame users on video as they move around while on a call. Facebook says that even the Facebook Messenger users who don't have Portal will be able to connect with Portal users by utilising cameras built in a laptop, smartphone or tablet.

Users will have access to services such as Spotify Premium, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Facebook Watch, Food Network, and Newsy at launch, with more services being added later. If you buy two devices - either two Portals, two Portal Pluses, or one of each - you can save $100 on your purchase via Facebook.

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