Sci-tech

Facebook unveils new Portal smart speakers

Facebook unveils new Portal smart speakers

Although Facebook acquired virtual reality headset manufacturer Oculus in 2014, this is the first time it has developed a consumer hardware product in-house.

Well, if you're Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook, you launch a video camera called Portal which actually looks into people's living rooms. Your Portal conversations stay between you and the people you're calling.

The company's Portal smart display is a 10.1-inch 720p device with a 12MP front camera. Designed specifically for video-calls, the hi-def camera has the ability to detect how many people there are in the room, and focus on them, panning and zooming on the subject's face as they move around.

A four mic array picks up voices for voice recognition and calling, while the stereo speakers included are capable of 10W total output.

Portal, and a larger 15-inch Portal+ model, is billed by Facebook has a smart home device created to let users make calls to friends and family.

Last month, Adobe forecast in a research paper that 48% of US-based consumers would own a smart speaker by the end of this year.

The Portal and Portal Plus are available for preorder today, and will ship in November. Both come in white or black.

The device can also stream music from Spotify, Pandora and Amazon Music and video from Facebook Watch. The larger Portal+ also includes 2 tweeters for the speaker, so the sound output will sound much better on the larger Portal+ than the regular Portal.

'Facebook doesn't listen to, view, or keep the contents of your Portal video calls.

Arriving in the U.S. in November, Facebook Portal is a $199 (£152) 10-inch screen, with two speakers and a high-quality webcam attached, which the company hopes users will put in their living rooms and kitchens and use to launch video chats with friends and loved ones.

Facebook's advantage over other video-chat services: Chances are, nearly everyone you might want to call already has an account. The smaller of the two options, the Portal, offers a 10-inch display, while the Portal+ jumps up to a 15-inch display that can pivot between portrait and landscape modes. Amazon's Echo Show can make video Drop-In calls as well as video calls through the Alexa app. Amazon will be adding support for Skype video chatting in the future, too.

The device comes with a lens cover which you can put over the camera. The devices understand voice commands as well, allowing users to say "Hey Portal" before asking it to call one of their contacts. Portal costs $199 and Portal+ is $349. People can delete their Portal voice history in their Facebook Activity Log at any time. You can also receive $100 United States dollars off any two devices - this means a bundle of two Portal devices will be priced at $298 USD, so you can share the experience right out of the box.