Facebook launches Portal, Portal

Facebook could put a camera in your home with video calling Portal device

Facebook introduces Portal and Portal+ with prices starting at $199

Facebook states that its Portal speakers are designed with privacy in mind, and the products ship with a physical camera cover for users who do not fully trust the option to disable the hardware. You will also use your existing Facebook or Facebook Messenger account to sign in. Because the screen pivots, you can have chats in both landscape and portrait mode, unlike the vanilla Facebook Portal which is created to sit in landscape mode only.

Portal only sends voice commands to Facebook servers after a user says: "Hey Portal", just like the Amazon Echo and Google Home.

However, the second version of Portal - called Portal Plus - is a whole different beast. There's also no way to record video from the camera.

The Portal and Portal+ are new video calling devices which feature built-in speakers and large touchscreens.

Facebook is a software company famous for pushing out products quickly and adjusting later depending on the level of uproar.

It too has a 12-megapixel front-facing camera and four mic array, although its speaker output is 20W, provided by two tweeters and a single 4-inch bass unit.

Pandora is the only launch partner to have commented on Facebook's new devices so far, writing in a blog post: "We're teaming up with Facebook for its launch of Portal, two new video communication devices for the home that allow users to engage in video chats with their closest friends and family, to help change that". As an example, if you have a Portal set up in your kitchen and are chatting with someone while you make dinner, the camera will follow you around the room as best it can so you are always viewable by whomever you're chatting with. All of this is pretty basic for a smart display, and devices like Amazon's Echo Show have been offering similar features for ages.

Facebook is emphasizing using Portal and Portal Plus for video calls.

Last month the company confirmed it had been the subject of a data breach affecting up to 50 million users, which is now being investigated by the Irish Data Protection Commission (IDPC), the lead supervising authority for Facebook in the EU.

Facebook Portal comes in two display sizes: Portal, which is 10 inches, and Portal Plus, which is a whopping 15 inches.

Facebook also touts Amazon Alexa integration, but it's unclear how deeply Amazon's voice assistant is embedded into these devices.

"It´s been a big shift for the company", Facebook´s vice president of consumer hardware Andrew Bosworth told AFP before the launch of "Portal".

Facebook is now accepting pre-orders for the new devices and will be shipping them next month.

Click below to pre-order your Facebook Portal or Facebook Portal Plus today! And there's a plastic privacy shield you can keep over the camera, though it looks like an afterthought.

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