Facebook gets in your face with video calling devices

Devices available in NZ from 5 November
  • Stuart Corner (Computerworld New Zealand)
  • 19 September, 2019 13:08

Facebook has launched three new video communications devices for the home: Portal Mini, Portal, and Portal TV and says they will be available in New Zealand from 5 November. They add to the Portal+ launched last year

All four enable people to place a video call to another person using one of the devices by using voice commands. Each device uses an AI-powered smart camera that pans and zooms automatically to the person making the call.

Portal Mini, Portal and Portal+ are photoframe like devices with inbuilt smarts and camera. Portal TV uses the TV as its screen.

The photoframe devices also act as such when not in use: they can display photos, videos and information such as birthday reminders. 

All have Alexa built in enabling users to listen to music, check the news, get local search results and control their smart home via portal.

Facebook says it has addressed privacy concerns saying: “Portal has clear and simple settings for privacy and security. You can disable the camera and microphone with a single tap or a sliding switch. A red light next to the lens indicates the camera and microphone are off and there’s an integrated camera cover if you want to physically block the camera lens.”

And, it says, for added security, the Smart Camera and Smart Sound functions use AI technology that runs locally on Portal, not on Facebook servers.

Portal+ will be available for $479, Portal for $309, Portal Mini for $219 online from from 15 October, and Portal TV for $259 from 5 November.