Facebook Unveils Portal and Portal

Facebook wants people to invite its cameras into their homes

Facebook has just announced that its long-awaited video chat devices Portal and Portal+ are now available to preorder in the United States, with shipping due to commence in November. The Portal includes a 10-inch screen with a 1280 x 800 display, while the Portal+ comes with a 15-inch 1920 x 1080 pivoting display. 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".

While the long-anticipated product could eventually open up fresh display advertising revenue streams for Facebook, its launch comes in the aftermath of the social network's biggest ever data breach and amid growing concerns around user privacy.

While Facebook's video calling smart home devices have always been in the works, the wake of another major data privacy scandal doesn't feel like the best time for a product launch. With Smart Camera, the Portal can automatically pan and zoom to keep everyone in view.

Facebook expects to stand apart on the market because of Portal's touchscreen and the 400 million people who call through its Messenger service each month worldwide.

"Facebook doesn't listen to, view, or keep the contents of your Portal video calls", the company said in its announcement on Monday. The company has revealed details about its Amazon Echo competitor, a voice-controlled, webcam-equipped smart screen named Portal.

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

"Privacy is very, very, very important", said Rafa Camargo, vice president of Portal.

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

This uses the Portal's Smart camera feature to transform your face and voice into those of the story's characters, meaning you can still give your kids (or your pets) un-rivaled bedtime tales no matter how far away you are. If you splash out on two Portals, you can save $100, with a pair costing just $298.

Like Alexa, you can delete the Portal's voice history via the Facebook Activity Log. There is also a one-touch option to completely disable the camera and mute the microphone.

Pre-orders begin today but devices are only available to customers in the U.S. Check out Facebook's Portal website for more information. The 10.1-inch display has a resolution of 1280x800 and has 10W dual speakers.

First going on sale in the USA in November, Portal will come with a 10in display for video calls, or a 15in display on the Portal+. This marks Facebook's first physical product aside from the Oculus virtual reality headset which Facebook acquired in 2014.

In addition to video calls, meanwhile, Portal will also support Spotify Premium, Pandora, and iHeartRadio, as well as Facebook Watch, Food Network, and Newsy, with more in the works.

Do you plan on picking up a new Portal? Facebook is about connecting people, after all. However, Amazon's and Google's smart displays do much more than make video calls-namely, they integrate with other services, many of which are unique to their parent companies.

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