Digital Life 10.10.2018 12:44 pm

Facebook launches video-calling device ‘Portal’

Introducing Portal by Facebook. Picture: Facebook

Introducing Portal by Facebook. Picture: Facebook

Facebook is looking to take video calling to the next level with the AI-powered Portal and Portal+ devices.

Love knows no distance … and neither does Facebook. On Monday the company introduced Portal and Portal+, screens designed to provide users an immersive and engaging video chat experience without all the distractions.

Users can choose either a 10-inch 1280 x 800 display or 15-inch 1920 x 1080 display, both with as little of the intelligent hardware visible as possible, to give the feeling of being in the same roome as loved ones.

The devices are 100% hands-free, and the gadgets don’t need to be shifted as you move around. The Smart Camera “automatically pans and zooms to keep everyone in view”, and the Smart Sound “minimises background noise and enhances the voice of whoever is talking, no matter where they move.”

Both Portal devices can connect with any user who has the Messenger app, Portal or no Portal. Plus, you can have immersive group conversations with up to seven people (eight including Alexa) to make it feel like old times.

The devices have their own voice control that can be used to start calls, but Portal also supports Alexa who can help with anything from expanding a grocery list to checking sports scores.

They also allow for sharing music with Spotify Premium, Pandora and iHeartRadio as well as telling stories with some augmented reality effects.

With such an immersive and personal tool, it’s essential that user privacy and security is taken carefully into account, and Facebook is working on regaining our trust.

The microphone and camera can be fully disabled with just one tap, and each device comes with a camera cover for added security. Finally, you can set a four to 12-digit code to lock Portal until you want to use it again.

Portal is already available for pre-order from Facebook and Amazon. Portal is available for $199 (R2 920) and Portal+ has a price tag of $349 (R5 120)  — or you can bundle any two devices together to get $100 (R1 470) off the total.

For those looking for a more authentic bonding experience while you’re miles apart, Portal may be your solution.

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