Facebook launches Portal, Portal

Facebook launches Portal, Portal

Facebook Portal comes in two display sizes: Portal, which is 10 inches, and Portal Plus, which is a whopping 15 inches. Portal costs $199 and Portal+ is $349. The company has revealed details about its Amazon Echo competitor, a voice-controlled, webcam-equipped smart screen named Portal. It is available for pre-order now. The bigger Portal+ sports a huge 15.6-inch Full HD display, which you can also rotate between portrait and landscape.

Portal represents Facebook's entry into that fray.

However, the second version of Portal - called Portal Plus - is a whole different beast.

But what's really interesting about the Portal is that Facebook doesn't have its own voice assistant ready for heavy lifting.

And it also comes bundled with Amazon´s voice interface "Alexa", enabling users to shop or control household appliances.

The Portal is primarily a device for making video calls with your friends on Facebook and Messenger.

The Facebook Portal and Portal+ devices are primarily video calling, smart screens for the home.

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Scrutiny this year over Facebook's privacy and content moderation practices have led some people to abandon the service and the company to warn of thinning profits. You can ask the device questions by using the voice command, 'Hey Portal'. With the first, Portal users can expect the built-in camera to automatically zoom and pan to make sure that everyone is in the shot.

The microphone and speakers also use AI functions to drown out background noise and enhance voice sounds during a chat.

But Facebook understands that some users might be concerned about allowing a device that's always listening into their homes, so it has provided a number of privacy protection features. And best of all, there's a camera cover provided that lets you completely block out the camera of the devices with a physical cover if you still don't trust Facebook - and frankly, I wouldn't blame you. Calls can be made to and from Messenger-enabled smartphones and tablets.

Portal can be passcode protected.

Earlier this year, Facebook had to acknowledge that as many as 87 million people may have had their data accessed by Cambridge Analytica, a data mining firm that worked for the Trump campaign and aimed to use the data to influence elections.

Portal and Portal+ are available now for pre-order in the USA - from Facebook at portal.facebook.com, as well as Amazon and Best Buy - and will begin shipping in November. You can start a video call simply by saying "Hey Portal" and noting who you'd like to call.

Facebook's advantage over other video-chat services: Chances are, nearly everyone you might want to call already has an account. You can save $100 when buying two of them at the same time, and these will also be available at other retailers like Amazon and Best Buy.

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