Facebook’s Newest Gadget After Data Breaches Takes Video Inside the Home

Facebook’s Newest Gadget After Data Breaches Takes Video Inside the Home

Facebook’s Newest Gadget After Data Breaches Takes Video Inside the Home

Facebook is rolling out its first-ever tech gadget - and it's every bit as creepy as you'd expect.

Facebook's new Portal and Portal+ smart displays. Made as a smart-speaker with a strong focus on video chatting, the Portal lets you play music through popular streaming services, and chat with friends using Facebook's Messenger.

The social networking giant says: "When you can't be there, Portal and Portal+ let you feel there".

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.

Facebook said it's like "having your own cinematographer and sound crew direct your personal video calls". One of the top features of the Portal and Portal+ is their smart camera - or may be some will find it creepy - that will follow people around in a room while they are on a video call.

Do you plan on picking up a new Portal? Its Smart Camera feature will automatically pan and zoom the camera to keep everyone in view as you move around during the chat, and Smart Sound ensures that the background noise is reduced and enhances the volume of the other party on the call.

Facebook servers are only contacted when you say "Hey Portal".

The social media giant claims that it won't "listen to, view, or keep the contents of your Portal calls", and that all calls are encrypted for heightened security. For more about how Alexa works, and for a list of things you can do with it, go here. This does not disable calls, notifications, or smart speaker functions. Augmented reality features will be added to Portal via the Spark AR platform.

A new Story Time experience is even created to "bring stories to life with custom sound effects and visuals". And of course, Facebook Watch.

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What's the difference between Portal and Portal+?

The $199 Portal looks similar to the new Echo Show with its 10-inch, 1280×800 touchscreen, but its speaker sits at the bottom edge, facing the user. "It enables the Facebook devices to piggy-back on the back of Alexa success".

Both Portals come with dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity.

To help assuage privacy concerns, Facebook developed a physical privacy shutter that can be placed over Portal's wide-angle camera.

Facebook even includes a plastic cover that can be placed over the Portal's camera, though its simple, non-integrated design makes the cover seem like a bit of an afterthought. To prevent unwanted visitors from using your Portal, you can set a passcode from four to 12 digits in length. Portal will also have an advantage over Amazon and Google's smarthome devices, being able to call any smartphone that has Facebook Messenger installed.

Facebook is also including features like Smart Call and Smart Sound. Lastly, Portal only sends those voice commands to Facebook servers which are said after the "Hey Portal" keyword. Facebook hasn't been the most forthcoming company when it comes to letting users know which data it collects and how it's using that data.

Portal-and Portal Plus-will cost $200 and $350, respectively. If you splash out on two Portals, you can save $100, with a pair costing just $298.

Facebook is now accepting pre-orders for the new devices and will be shipping them next month.

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