Facebook is now taking social connectivity to the television. The social media company recently announced three new devices to the Portal video calling family including the Portal TV.
Despite its name, the Portal TV is not an actual television but instead, it is a video call device that is meant to be hooked to your television via HDMI. It uses Facebook’s Smart Camera technology to pan and zoom to focus on people who move around in the room.
Though it resembles a Kinect, the Portal TV features a 12.5MP camera with a 120-degrees field of view. There is also an array of eight microphones in the device to accurately track sound. It also supports 2.4GHz and 5GHz and WiFi.
Since the social media giant owns WhatsApp, the device naturally supports video calls for it, as well as the company’s own Facebook Messenger. Amazon’s smart voice assistant, Alexa is also supported on Portal TV.
Though making video calls with the device on the TV is the main feature here, it works as a TV streaming device as well. Users can also get services such as Amazon Prime Video, Showtime, CBS All Access and others. It can also be activated by saying “Hey Portal”, and a remote control is also included in the box for easier inputs.
For privacy concerns, the device also comes with a physical camera cover and a button that disables the camera and microphone for added security. Facebook says that it will be auditing anonymized recordings and have human auditors for service improvements but users can choose to opt-out of this feature in the app’s setting.
The Portal TV is now available for pre-order with a price tag of US$149 (~RM625) although Facebook is currently only shipping the device to the US, Canada and Europe. As such, there is no mention of whether the device will be reaching our shores.