Published: Tue, October 09, 2018
Hi-Tech | By Grace Becker

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

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

Dave Kaufman, the marketing lead for Facebook's Portal division, commented on the device stating: "Portal+ and Portal really live up to that idea of helping you feel closer and allowing you to spend more quality time with people, even if they live thousands of miles away from you".

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 Portal has a 10-inch 1280 x 800 pixel display and looks quite similar to the Amazon Echo Show in form factor, while its bigger sibling has a 15-inch 1920 x 1080 pixel display that can pivot on its base. The larger Portal+ has an HD 15.6-inch screen that can swivel between vertical and horizontal views. You get $100 off if you buy any two devices, and they'll ship at some point in November.

"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.

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

The Portal also takes advantage of the best part about Facebook: photos. Visit portal.facebook.com for more information or to pre-order your Portal today. Portal uses Facebook Messenger to make video calls, which the company says are encrypted.

All of the video chatting features you would find on Facebook are there, including group chat with multiple people, stickers, and effects. These new widescreen displays are created to help you feel as though the two of you are in the same room.

Google to shutter Google+ following undisclosed privacy breach
Google says it will give users a 10-month period to transition out of Google +, slated for completion by the end of next August. Google is also limiting apps' ability to gain access to users' call log and SMS data on Android devices.

For added security, Smart Camera and Smart Sound use AI technology that runs locally on Portal, not on Facebook servers.

And it also comes bundled with Amazon´s voice interface "Alexa", enabling users to shop or control household appliances. They also come with a camera cover so that one can easily cover the camera when not in use.

The Portal has been priced at $199 while the Portal+ will cost $349. The only other time Facebook tried to sell hardware was in 2013, when it built the software for a custom HTC phone that flopped. In Facebook's favour, beyond the price difference, is the fact that the company can hook Portal's videoconferencing features into Facebook and Messenger, two services that cover a substantial chunk of the human race between them. It's worth noting that you can't browse Facebook, the social network, on the Portal.

Facebook has just entered the smart speaker business and it's already partnered with three music services: Pandora, Spotify and iHeartRadio.

That means the Portal is in essence a smart display with less features than what you'd get from competing Alexa or Google Assistant-powered devices, that tries to make up for that gap with better face chat features.

The Portal uses an array of four far-field microphones that records your conversations picks up your voice commands and a 12MP wide-angle camera that watches you sleep lets you make video calls.

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