Facebook enters hands free calling with Portal

Facebook enters the hardware space again with Portal.

Portal is a countertop video chat that comes in two different forms, Portal and Portal+. Currently, on preorder Portal will retail for $199 and Portal+ for $349. Both versions come in black and white depending on your style for shipping on November 15th.

For the cost difference Portal will feature a 10.1″ 720p display and Portal+ will be 15.6″ 1080p screen that rotates 90 degrees. Sound pumped from the Portal+ will be richer with two tweeters and 4″ bass speaker. Portals sound comes from 2 full range 10w drivers. Both appear to have the same camera above the display as 12MP with 8x zoom and 140 degree field of view.

The 140 degree view will track who is in frame and how you move to make sure you are always on display for the other caller. The nice feature for Portal is you can share video chat with anyone on Facebook, not just other Portal users. Also while not in use Portal works as a Alexa device allowing you to do all the things you can on various Amazon products. Other app partners are coming along as well after release. The display when not in use transforms into Superframe. This shows photos from Facebook, when your contacts come online or gives reminders of important events.

With the recent events of Facebook in the area of privacy they want to point out Portal is secure. Facebook states the camera can be disabled when needed but also comes with a privacy cover to block it if you don’t trust it. Their site for Portal states that calls are run on the Portal itself and not Facebook servers so conversations are private. The AI for the camera also stores information locally never leaving the Portal. For audio you can delete your search history in Facebook and only activated after you say “Hey Portal”.

Are you ready for Facebook to have a screen in your home? For $199-$349 it is a big ask to have a device solely for video chat when we already have so many camera on tablets and smartphone to do the same thing.