Facebook unveils Portal and Portal

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Portal will cost $199 while Portal Plus will cost $349. If you pre-order both, you will receive a $100 discount.

Facebook doesn't listen to, view, or keep the contents of your Portal video calls.

Facebook is launching the first electronic device to bear its brand, a screen and camera-equipped gadget meant to make video calls easier and more intuitive. The Portal+ has a bigger 15-inch 1920 x 1080 pivoting display.

Portal represents Facebook's first serious foray into selling consumer hardware outside of its virtual reality brand Oculus, which it acquired for $2 billion in 2014.

Unlike the Echo Show and Lenovo Smart Displays, which are more general-purpose devices, the Portal is centered around video chats through Facebook Messenger.

Facebook is upping the ante against Amazon and Google with the launch of Portal, a smart speaker and display product that's been designed with video calls in mind. That sounds like a lot to ask for a social-media company mired in privacy scandals.

Earlier in the year, it was forced to admit that the personal data of tens of millions of users had been hijacked by Cambridge Analytica, a political firm working for Donald Trump in 2016.

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The only video calling platform the device supports is Messenger, naturally.

A 140-degree wide angle camera lens will even follow users about the room. If there are a bunch of people chatting, the camera will zoom out in an attempt to get everyone into the shot at the same time. With Smart Sound, background noise is minimised and the voice of the speaker is enhanced no matter where people move; this should allow the person on the other end to hear you better.

As far as privacy is concerned, Facebook wants to assure people that it has taken relevant steps for the Portal and Portal+. If you don't want to use Alexa, either, you can flick a switch that disables the camera and microphone altogether. You can buy the device directly from Facebook, or via Amazon and Best Buy. These speakers can serve as hub-like controllers for "smart" homes as people install appliances, lighting and security systems that can be controlled over the internet.

Portal can be passcode protected.

Facebook has also said that it's incorporating AR effects into the new video calling devices, with "Story Time" created to bring bedtime stories to life with colorful visuals and custom sound effects. The devices don't have facial recognition and do not identify who is using the device as well. All other functions are local (aside from certain Alexa functions when you say "Hey Alexa"). Portal represents a new challenge because hardware is hard to tweak in the wild.

Facebook has just announced that its long-awaited video chat devices Portal and Portal+ are now available to preorder in the U.S., with shipping due to commence in November.

In addition to their price and size differences, the Portal+ has a more powerful speaker that includes two tweeters with high-range frequency and a single, four-inch bass speaker for richer sound. You can delete your Portal's voice history in your Facebook Activity Log at any time.

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