Facebook Launches Portal Smart Display

Facebook could put a camera in your home with video calling Portal device

Facebook introduces Portal and Portal+ with prices starting at $199

"The first thing consumers are going to wonder is 'how much sensitive data is this collecting about me?'" said John Breyault, vice president of public policy of telecommunications and fraud at the National Consumers League, a Washington-based consumer advocacy group that has received donations from Facebook and other tech companies.

The Portal comes in two variants. The Portal features a 10.1-inch display along with 10W speakers. It features a pivoting 15-inch display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080.

The device, which will be available for pre-order in the United States from Monday, is created to allow users to make video calls at home without having to stand immediately in front of the screen or hold a phone at arm´s length. Facebook promises you can delete Portal's voice history in your Facebook Activity log. And to start the call, all it takes is: "Hey Portal". The company is also being extra cautious because the devices will be in intimate spaces, like living rooms and kitchens, at a time of eroding user trust. It has a somewhat shady track record of looking after our data, what with its involvement in the Cambridge Analytica scandal and a more recent hack that affected 50 million accounts. You can completely disable the camera and microphone with just a single tap, and both the Portal and Portal+ come with a camera cover to easily block the lens at any time.

They are only available for pre-order in the U.S. at present, priced at $199 (around £152) and $349 respectively.

"We know that privacy and security are important when you bring new technology into your home". While FB realizes that its reputation precedes it, it's worth noting that a simple update to its terms and agreements could change practically everything.

Portal's Smart Camera works in tandem with "Smart Sound", which minimizes background noise and hones in on the person speaking for a clearer video call experience.

Facebook says it doesn't listen to, view or keep contents of your Portal video calls, and the calls are encrypted - it's unclear if that's end-to-end encryption.

It's even odder from Zuckerberg, who famously puts tape over his laptop's camera to protect his own privacy. This limits how a consumer would use the product as compared to the Echo, making it less appealing from a feature-list standpoint too.

Portal represents Facebook's entry into that fray.

Although Amazon isn't listed as a music partner, Facebook's "Portal" devices do have Amazon Alexa built in. Two different models were announced today, the Portal and the larger Portal+.

They said Portal is available at Amazon and Best Buy stores in addition to Facebook.com and starts shipping to US customers in early November.

Facebook also touts Amazon Alexa integration, but it's unclear how deeply Amazon's voice assistant is embedded into these devices.

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