Facebook announce Portal Video Calling Device

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

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

Facebook describes these machines as flawless for video chatting on Facebook Messenger.

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

Unlike the Echo Show and Lenovo Smart Displays, which are more general-purpose devices, the Portal is centered around video chats through Facebook Messenger.

On Monday, Twitter users were quick to point to Facebook's privacy fallacies and what they saw as the company's impudence in asking people to trust it with a camera called Portal inside their homes.

It's not year clear when Facebook will be launching the devices in markets outside the U.S., or how much they'll cost, but we've reached out to Facebook and we'll update this story as soon as we know more.

Facebook's Andrew Bosworth spoke to the BBC, and admitted that there will be concerns from would-be users about the devices: "We understand that inviting a camera and microphone into your home is the kind of thing that will give a consumer pause, especially for a new category of products around video calling that haven't been really common for consumers to have access to". With the first, Portal users can expect the built-in camera to automatically zoom and pan to make sure that everyone is in the shot.

Your friends don't need to own a Portal to receive your calls; as long as they have Facebook Messenger on their smartphone or tablet, you're good to go, with up to seven different people on one call.

The company says Facebook's privacy policy applies to Portal, since it uses Messenger for voice and video calls.

Although Amazon isn't listed as a music partner, Facebook's "Portal" devices do have Amazon Alexa built in.

Indeed, CEO Mark Zuckerberg this spring reportedly pushed back the Portal's launch date by almost half a year after the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal blew up.

Portal also comes with Amazon Alexa built in. Plus, the AI tech runs locally, it reports, and the camera doesn't use facial recognition or identify users.

In the intervening six months, Facebook has also acknowledged the largest data breach in its history, admitting to regulators that more than 50m accounts were compromised due to a bug that it discovered and fixed in September.

The standard Portal smart speaker features a 10.1-inch 720p display with 10W speakers, and is priced at $199. Both devices support "Hey Portal" for voice control options.

You can completely disable the camera and microphone with a single tap. The devices are available for pre-order now for November shipping (no exact date was given) via Facebook and will be available soon at Amazon and Best Buy.

While the contents of Portal video calls are encrypted, Facebook does collect call logs from the device.

Portal represents Facebook's first serious foray into selling consumer hardware outside of its virtual reality brand Oculus, which it acquired for $2 billion in 2014. Both display photos and notifications from Facebook and videos from Food Network, but offer few other applications. "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. While some might find that creepy, Facebook says the goal is to show people they don't have to be stuck in front of the screen to communicate. You can buy the device directly from Facebook, or via Amazon and Best Buy.

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