Facebook’s Portal devices have become surprisingly popular in recent years, mainly due to the pandemic and our reliance on video calls. It is therefore no surprise that the company is doubling the concept. Today, Facebook announces two new Portals: an updated Portal + for $ 349, plus a brand new $ 199 Portal Go, which is also the company’s first portable smart screen.
Yes, in short, that means the Go can actually be retrieved from its boot. There is also an integrated handle on the back for easy carrying. Despite the handle, it has a relatively compact form factor, with a 1,280 x 800 10-inch screen encased in a soft case.
The idea behind this portable portal, according to Facebook, is that you can keep the device in a kitchen or office, and it can then be moved through the house when the family gathers in another room. Since it is portable, it can of course also be brought outdoors, as long as you have a relatively strong WiFi signal. Since it can stream music from sources like Spotify, you can also use the Go as a portable speaker.
In terms of battery life, Facebook says you’ll probably call up to five hours of one-on-one messenger for a single charge and play up to 14 hours of music when the screen is off.
In addition, the company unveiled a new Portal +, which has not been updated since the original debut in 2018. With a 14-inch, 2,140 x 1,440 screen, it still has the largest screen of all the portals, but its footprint is much smaller than before. The Portal + screen can also be tilted up and down to reach different heights.
Both of the new Portals have a 12-megapixel camera with an ultra-wide field of view. Like the other portals, this one uses Facebook’s so-called Smart Camera technology, which uses AI to track, pan and zoom you through the room to keep you in frame at all times. There is also a smart audio technology that allows you to talk at a normal volume, regardless of the distance between you and the device, and your callers can still make you hear.
Of course, with any Facebook product, privacy and security are obvious. Both new portals have built-in camera lens covers to allay fears, and there are buttons at the top that disconnect the camera and microphone. The intelligent camera AI technology mentioned earlier works locally on the device and not on Facebook’s servers. WhatsApp calls are encrypted by default. On Messenger, however, you need to specify the contacts and groups you want to enable end-to-end encryption (and even this feature is still in the rollout phase).
Aside from new hardware, Facebook has also outlined some inbound software updates. One is home mode, which allows you to essentially share the portal with the whole family. In Home mode, you can access a variety of shared apps and contacts, while keeping the rest personal. For example, you can let the whole family use apps like Messenger and WhatsApp, and allow them to call grandma and grandpa, but they can not contact anyone else if you do not allow it. You can also set a screen lock password to control access to the device.
The Portal home screen has also been redesigned to be more personalized, with a top row of favorite contacts and a map interface similar to those on other smart screens. There is one map for Messenger Rooms, one for shortcuts for Spotify playlists, another map for most used apps and more. As for Portal TV, the company will be updating it soon so you can see call notifications, such as a pending room invitation or a missed video call.
In addition, Facebook has updated the Watch Together experience on Portal so that it can be used not only on Portal-to-Portal calls, but also with Messenger friends on the phone, laptop or tablet. In addition, the company says it is bringing WhatsApp support for multiple devices to Portal. Allows you to use WhatsApp on your phone as well as four non-phone devices at the same time.
Facebook is aware that portals can be used not only in the home context, but also for business purposes. Therefore, from December, it will add support for Microsoft Teams for all Portal devices. (It added support for Zoom, WebEx, BlueJeans, and GotoMeeting last year.) There’s also a new Calendar app that lets you view your Outlook or Google Calendar on Portal. The wonderful thing about this is that you can jump into your next meeting with a single tap on the screen.
In addition, Facebook launches Portal for Business, specifically for small businesses to implement and manage Portal devices. They can create and manage Facebook work accounts that allow employees to use the company’s email addresses to set up the portal. IT administrators can use a Portal Device Manager to remotely manage the devices.
According to Facebook, the 8-inch Portal Mini will be discontinued, but the Portal TV and the 2019 10-inch Portal that require a power cord will still be available.
Pre-orders for both the Portal Go and the new Portal + start today. They will start shipping on October 19th.
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