Facebook intros new Portal smart hub line powered by Alexa
Facebook has launched the Portal, a new webcam focused device that also offers similar functionality to Amazon’s Echo Show. In fact, Portal supports Amazon Alexa, allowing users to control its functions by voice control, as well as ask for information around things like the weather or sports results. The key difference with Facebook’s Portal is that it comes in two sizes and focuses its efforts around webcam chats using its Messenger app.
The Smart Camera in the Portal also includes cutting-edge tracking and framing, which allows a user to move around a room, like a kitchen, freely and naturally so they can talk and do other things at the same time. Undoubtedly, the technology is a spin-off from its acquisition of Oculus. The company is at pains to address the inevitable concerns about privacy, by allowing users to easily turn off the camera and mic when not in use, while also including a flap to cover the lens when not in use.
The Portal also includes built-in apps from Facebook Watch, the Food Network, Spotify, Pandora, iHeart Radio and Newsy, to give users access to a range of entertainment offerings. Facebook claims that the audio is rich and should comfortably fill an average room. With Alexa built-in as well, it stacks up pretty well to the competition, which should soon include Google too.
The Portal is available for pre-order in the US now. The 10.1-inch version is retailing for US$199 while the larger 15.6-inch model is going for US$349. There is also a bundle deal available on the 10.1-inch model giving you the option to buy two for US$298 at US$100 off.