Facebook to Sell Portal Video Devices

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Amazon and Google are in the midst of a corporate spat, and Google disallowed Amazon from having YouTube on the device.

Portal represents Facebook's entry into that fray - but pointing an artificially-intelligent camera into peoples' homes could well raise other privacy questions. Callers always stay in frame, as the device's smart camera (with an 8x zoom) constantly adjusts to your motion.

It is programmed to capture quality sound, minimize the background noise, provide real-time video call experience to users. But the devices also come with built-in support for Amazon's Alexa, so you can talk to the Portal as you might the Echo Show. Facebook has done this to give an assurance to its users that it is not watching their moves.

Social media giant Facebook has unveiled two new video communication devices for the home in an attempt to dramatically change the way people keep in touch. "When you can't be there, Portal and Portal+ let you feel there", explains company in a press statement.

Facebook notes that it "doesn't listen to, view, or keep the contents of your Portal video calls". You'll still get calls on Messenger when you're away.

The Portal+ on the other hand, is the bigger of the two devices, and is big enough to work perfectly in your living room.

You also have added security control over Portal with the option of setting passwords and disabling its microphone and camera. The history of voice commands can be duly accessed, and even deleted upon the user's discretion and the information won't be stored on Facebook' servers too.

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Facebook is all set to launch Portal, a camera that is going to reside in your home so that you can talk and make video calls to people you love the most. They simply activate the device using a wake word "Portal" for each command. While voice-enabled smart displays like the Portal are in a budding product category, ownership of smart speakers like the Amazon Echo or Google Home will rise to 48% of US consumers after this holiday season from 32% in August, Adobe Analytics forecast.

Users can call Facebook friends and connections on Messenger even if they don't have Portal. And to start the call, all it takes is: "Hey Portal".

Recall, Google is preparing a presentation of a miniature smartphone. Plus, you can have immersive group conversations with up to seven people (eight including Alexa) to make it feel like old times.

With video-calling growing exponentially more popular, the Portal device may prove to be a stronger seller than predicted, but it is hard to think of a more unsuitable time for such a product to launch from the company.

Another cool feature is Story Time, which has five interactive storybooks you can read. More on, Story Time brings stories to life with custom sound effects and visuals.

Both devices are available now for pre-order in the United States and will begin shipping in November. You can purchase a Portal for $199 or a Portal+ for $349.

You can also buy your Portal device via Amazon or Best Buy. These devices are still too much of a leap of faith right now for Facebook to ask of its users.

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