A hot potato: Facebook's biggest hurdle with Portal TV will be itself - that is, convincing users that it is safe to bring into their home. Given Facebook's spotty track record with protecting user data over the past couple of years, that won't be easy. Fortunately, devices like smart speakers and smartphones have indoctrinated consumers into lowering their guard as it relates to personal privacy.
Not to be mistaken for Microsoft’s Kinect, Portal TV is a video calling device meant for use with your television. It sits on top or below your set and connects via HDMI. Portal TV features a 12.5-megapixel camera with 120-degree field of view that pans and zooms automatically to keep everyone in the frame.
An array of eight linear microphones helps to accurately track sound. There is even a physical camera cover and electronic mic / camera disable button for added privacy and security. Wireless connectivity takes place over 2.4GHz / 5GHz Wi-Fi and you also get a remote control for input.
Portal TV is more than a basic video calling device. With it, you can make video calls with Messenger and WhatsApp, interact with Amazon Alexa and even co-watch content on Facebook Watch with friends and family. It’s not a bona fide TV-watching device as it lacks many of the features and content found on dedicated products like Apple TV or Roku but the co-watching feature shows that Facebook is at least thinking with such a future in mind.
Portal TV is available to pre-order from today priced at $149. It ships in the US, Canada and Europe on November 5, just in time for the holidays.