Last month Facebook announced the launch of their Portal platform: an Echo Show-like competitor designed to put Facebook-driven video chat right on your kitchen counter. Today, you can buy it—but are consumer’s interested?
Both the Portal and Portal Plus are available today directly from Facebook, Amazon, and Best Buy. Both feature video calling through the Facebook network, with the regular Portal ($199) sporting a smaller fixed screen (and a profile that looks strongly like Amazon’s Echo Show) as Portal Plus ($349) rocking a much larger 15.6″ screen that you can use in either portrait mode—seen above–or rotate into widescreen mode. Both devices have a single camera at the top, but it’s designed to zoom in on you as you move around, say, your kitchen while video chatting with a friend.
We’ve talked about the Portal already and we don’t have a particularly rosy view of it given Facebook’s voracious appetite for personal data and their free-wheeling use of that collected data. Facebook has heavily emphasized the privacy features of the device, though, including a physical kill switch for the camera and microphone, but given the general distrust of the company—who hasn’t had a relative ask them if they think Facebook listens in on their conversations?—it might be a hard sell.
While it’s too early to tell, sales date over the next month will paint a picture of the public’s take on whether or not a Facebook-powered video console belongs in their living space.