Facebook has made a new way to use video chat with your Facebook friends. It’s not an app, nor is it some awkward virtual-reality playpen. It is a device called Facebook Portal, and it also works on your seat and serves as one of the ways of communicating with your friends and family. It has a 12-megapixel camera front, with a large HD screen so you can see the person at the end of this call. It uses AI functioning to make the call more appealing and better than the competing devices, most of which are available.
Facebook Portal comes in two variant. Large portal+ costs $349 and has a 1080p moving screen or portrait or landscape setting with a gentle touch. The small portal costs $199 and has a 720p sitting session.
You can contact any of the Facebook contacts on the device, regardless of whether they have Portal. As long as they have Facebook messenger on their phone or tablet, you can start a video call. When Portal is dormant, it serves up photos from your Facebook library, and it can play music from Spotify and Pandora, or videos from Facebook Watch.
Video calls are started at Portal and not Alexa, but through a unique voice talk, “Hey Portal” Tell the Portal who you want to call, on the Portal (or the phone) on the other end of the line rings and shows a prompt to connect.
The camera on the front of the Portal runs a bit of software with the on-the-nose name of Smart Camera. The eye lens has a 140-inch view. That is enough to cover the entire living room, and about on par with GoPro gadgets. But when the Smart Camera software recognizes a human in the frame, it crops the image and zooms in, and it does so smoothly as a skilled cinematographer would.
Ikechukwu Onu is a writer, front-end dev, and digital junkie with a profound interest in all things tech. When not reviewing gadgets or apps, he enjoys contributing in groups and forums, tinkering with websites, and hanging out with friends.