Facebook Portal smart screen to launch amid concerns over privacy

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

Today Facebook announced their new Portal smart video calling device, complete with Alexa built-in, to help reinvent video chatting... but with their privacy track record, is this something you want? The Facebook Portal is an Alexa-powered smart display which has a focus on video chats.

"Our goal is to make you feel present in the same space as the person on the other end", said Rafa Camargo, the Facebook vice president overseeing Portal.

The device, which will be available for pre-order in the United States from Monday, is created to allow users to make video calls at home without having to stand immediately in front of the screen or hold a phone at arm´s length. The 10.1-inch display has a resolution of 1280x800 and has 10W dual speakers.

Portal and Portal+ are available now for pre-order in the United States - from Facebook at portal.facebook.com, as well as Amazon and Best Buy - and will begin shipping in November.

Facebook struck partnerships with companies to bolster the abilities of its Portal devices.

"This is going to gain (Facebook) not only a place in the smart home, but also data they may not have been able to collect before or understand before", said ABI Research analyst Jonathan Collins.

The Portal also has a button on the top that cuts off its microphone and camera.

A smart speaker device by Facebook Inc. called Portal is shown in this photo released by Facebook Inc. from Menlo Park, California, U.S., October 5, 2018.

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The Portal is available for preorder online and will arrive in stores in November. Other than that, the Facebook Portal is the first piece of consumer hardware built by the social network. However, the Portal devices also feature Alexa integration so one can use Amazon's voice assistant for checking the weather, controlling their smart home devices, and more. The bigger Portal+ sports a huge 15.6-inch Full HD display, which you can also rotate between portrait and landscape.

For added security, Smart Camera and Smart Sound use AI technology that runs locally on Portal, not on Facebook servers. They also come with a camera cover so that one can easily cover the camera when not in use.

They said Portal is available at Amazon and Best Buy stores in addition to Facebook.com and starts shipping to US customers in early November.

CNBC reports that shortly after Facebook's latest user data leak, the company wants consumers to install a Facebook-manufactured camera into their homes. This means two vanilla Portal devices will cost you $298. What do you think about Facebook's first hardware products?

As previously rumored, the Portal family will have two versions: The more affordable Portal model priced at $199, and the high-end Portal+ that will cost $399.

In addition to their price and size differences, the Portal+ has a more powerful speaker that includes two tweeters with high-range frequency and a single, four-inch bass speaker for richer sound.

Like its competitors, the Portal works with a handful of steaming media services such as Spotify, Pandora, Food Network and, of course, Facebook Watch.

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