It’s a video-chatting device, like Google Home Hub or Amazon Echo, which at first just looks like a typical communication tool.
The difference is the A.I. that has been implemented into the device which makes a few minor, but significant enhancements. Portal’s smart camera can focus and track individuals calling, so if you move around the room Portal follows. It also has a smart sound system that enhances the voice of whoever is talking and minimizes background sounds.
Alexa is built right into the device, so hands-free voice control can start and finish video calls, and also just ask for general info such as sports scores, the weather and so on. Portal also allows you to control your smart home devices or order groceries.
The device also utilizes the growing trend of Augmented Reality, with Facebook’s Spark AR Studio features being added in, similar to Snapchat’s AR filters.
One main concern, especially this year regarding Facebook, is on privacy. The device comes with a camera cover, and the device itself can be locked with an up-to 12 digit passcode. Video call conversations through Portal are not recorded onto Facebook servers, and the calls are encrypted.
Even if you don’t have Portal, you can call individuals with Portal through Facebook’s messenger.
Portal costs $199 USD and for Portal+ (Larger screen & slightly better audio) it’s $349 USD. It can be purchased at portal.facebook.com, Amazon, or BestBuy. They’ve also got a holiday deal of $100 USD off a bundle of two Portal devices — $298 USD total. If you know someone who might be interested in this, now might be a good time to buy it for the holiday season.