Facebook may finally be ready with its competitor to Amazon's Echo Show

Greg S

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Rumors have been flying about since the middle of 2017 that Facebook is building a smart speaker with a large touchscreen to rival Amazon's Echo Show. It appears now that the Cambridge Analytica scandal is in the past, Facebook may finally be ready for a final release of the Portal video chat device.

Originally, the speaker was believed to be slated for release at Facebook's F8 conference held in May, but privacy concerns could be responsible for the delay. After all, a device that can listen to you inside your home all the time should cause some concern.

Facebook's version of an Echo Show is said to come in two different screen sizes. Estimates place the pricing for the smaller version at $300 with the larger display going for around $400. As the second generation Echo Show has just launched at $229.99, Facebook really needs to bring some impressive features to justify the premium.

Given that privacy is a major concern for anything related to Facebook, Portal will feature a built-in shutter that can cover the camera. The wide-angle camera will use AI to detect humans and track them as they move within the field of view.

Acting as a digital assistant, Portal will be powered by Amazon's Alexa. There has been no mention of Google Assistant making it unlikely to be supported from what we currently know.

Portal may be the first time that Facebook may put its own name on a consumer hardware product. Although Facebook owns Oculus and its portfolio of VR equipment, not as many consumers are likely to think twice about it.

As the market for smart home devices is flooded with many similar products, there is the question of what we actually want to see from these smart devices. Why does anyone even want something that is neither as convenient as a tablet nor as inexpensive as a small virtual assistant?

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Being that I left Facebook in January to never return. I think I would rather catch a whopping case of malaria rather than use this device.
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Someday soon a clever group of tech-savvy entrepreneurs will create a robust, user-friendly social network that gives users a high degree of privacy without ads and paid spam. Their ToS will clearly state that they do NOT sell your personal data nor do they own anything you transmit on their service. They'll make security a bedrock feature of the network so parasitic third parties can't make a living scraping data from the users. All traffic will be encrypted. Individual access will cost around $4.00 a month with business accounts costing a little more, and people will sign on droves. The new service will will form smart alliances with streaming providers - for example, buy Netflix and get the empowering, ad-free premium social network for half price. They'll create tools to import your data from other networks, back up your data automatically, provide extensive filtering options and more. Then either Facebook, Google or Microsoft will spend a huge chunk of their net worth to acquire the upstart and ruin everything.
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