Already up for pre-order starting at $199, Portal has a 10-inch 1280 x 800 display.
The Portal is primarily a device for making video calls with your friends on Facebook and 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.
But lets face it, this is Facebook we are talking about, a company that has very loose definitions of the term privacy and has been repeatedly slammed in the past few years for misusing people's private data.
Facebook on Monday launched a range of AI-powered video-calling devices, a strategic revolution for the social network giant in its bid for a slice of a market now dominated by Amazon and Google. It's supposed to minimize background noise and enhance the speaker's voice during video chats, while the company's Smart Camera technology pans and zooms to keep you in-frame while you video chat. Facebook has incorporating augmented reality (AR) effects - powered by their Spark AR platform - to make calls fun and interactive.
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Facebook is emphasizing using Portal and Portal Plus for video calls.
The Portal devices look similar to Amazon's Echo Show, which also sports a large video screen, as does Google's reported new Home Hub. It is controlled using voice commands, although Facebook has eschewed the personal approach of competitors such as Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa in favour of a more disembodied presence: users initiate instructions with: "Hey Portal". The Portal comes with a manual camera cover that covers the lens, physically blocking it from broadcasting video when you don't want to, and additionally has a button that turns off the mic and camera, physically cutting the circuit, so it can't be compromised by hackers who want to tap into your video feed. It will also show you photos and videos from your Facebook library. You can bring Portal home for $199 Dollars and Portal+ for $349 USD.
Facebook servers receive the voice commands you issue after the "Hey Portal" hotword, but you can delete your voice history from the Facebook Activity Log.
Portal and Portal+ are available now for pre-order in the U.S. - from Facebook at portal.facebook.com, as well as Amazon and Best Buy - and will begin shipping in November. The former features a 10.1-inch screen with WXGA resolution and 10W speakers, while the latter features a 15.6-inch Full HD display with 20W speakers and a 4-inch bass woofer. "And, when played, music will be magically synced across your Portal devices".
Facebook is a software company famous for pushing out products quickly and adjusting later depending on the level of uproar. I couldn't shake the feeling that Facebook eventually wanted to run its facial-recognition tech on my chats, or peer into my living room to see what products I buy in order to target future ads.
But Facebook has moved to quickly allay security fears, saying that by keeping the processes on the actual device rather than in the cloud, the risk of hacking is lower than with a smartphone or computer. Portal supports group calls of up to seven people at the same time. Both are Amazon Alexa-enabled video calling devices.