Facebook has launched its Amazon Echo Show rival, the Portal, today in theUS. The device is more of a tablet than a smart speaker. Facebook has introduced two variants – Portal and Portal+ , and these are up for pre-order on Facebook Portal, Amazon, and BestBuy.
Both Portal and Portal+ will begin shipping in November. The Facebook Portal is priced at $199, while the Portal+ will retail at $349.
The Alexa-powered Facebook Portal touts a 10-inch display, while there is a 15-inch display on the Portal+. Both models are designed to help you feel closer to the important people in your life and make video chats feel less like a call, and more like you’re actually in the same room, says Facebook. These come with front facing cameras for video calls using Facebook webcams.
The Portal and Portal+ offer hands-free voice control and allow users to start a video call simply by saying “Hey Portal”. Facebook says that Portal and Portal+ are powered by AI, so the Portal’s Smart Camera stays with the action happening in front and automatically pans and zooms to keep everyone in view. It also uses Smart Sound technology that minimizes background noise, and enhances the voice of whoever is talking.
With the device, Facebook users will be able to directly call friends and connections on Messenger even if they don’t have Portal. It also supports group calls with up to seven people at the same time.
Facebook’s integration of Alexa enables other voice controlled features such as asking for sports scores, the weather, controlling smart home devices, order groceries, and more.
Facebook has also clarified that privacy and security are important to the company. Users get complete control over the device, and they can disable the camera, microphone with a single tap. Both Portal and Portal+ also come with a camera cover to block your camera’s lens.