Facebook bet big on connecting people via video with the original Portal smart display, and the company is back with two new Portals: a bigger Portal+ for large group calls and a battery-powered Portal Go that can tag along as you move about the house.
The Portal Go is Facebook’s first portable smart display. It has a 10.1-inch display with a 1280 by 800 screen resolution. It’s also got two full-range speakers and weighs about three pounds. There’s an integrated handle on the back that you can prop up to tote the device around your home. It’s the kind of gadget you’d station in a common area like the kitchen or the living room, though you can move it anywhere you might want to relocate for a video call. The Portal Go can be used outdoors, too, if you have a solid wifi connection. And since Facebook enables music playback with apps like Spotify and Pandora, you can use the Go as a speaker when you’re not using it for calls.
Facebook also launched the Portal+, an update to the original display that launched in 2018. The Portal+ is the largest of the Portal family, with a massive 14-inch display and 2160 by 1440 display resolution. You can pivot the screen a few ways and move it up and down depending on your needs. Facebook says the Portal+ can fit up to 25 people in gallery mode on a Zoom call at one time.
Both Portal devices pack in a 12-megapixel camera with an ultra-wide field of view. The Portals also have a feature that allows the camera to follow you around the frame and AI-powered sound technology also helps the person on the other line hear you regardless of your distance from the microphone.
Facebook has a less-than-spotless track record when it comes to privacy and security, to say the least. So it followed in the footsteps of other smart display makers by bundling in camera lens covers on both the Portal+ and Portal Go and a hardware mute button for the microphones. Facebook has moved the smart camera AI technology processing locally on the device rather than relying on its servers in a cloud far away.
Facebook has also updated its Watch Together experience so that you can chat with people using Messenger on the phone, laptop, or tablet. WhatsApp multi-device support is also coming to the Portal in the next few months, and you’ll be able to use Portal to check in with those contacts, too.
There are some additional software updates that should help make the Portal a bit more accommodating for homes with multiple folks around. For little kids with curious fingers, there’s a screen lock you can set up to keep anyone from using the Portal while you’re out. In Household Mode, you can allow access to several apps and contacts chosen by you or the device’s owner. It will enable others to contact those you call often without allowing them access to other parts of your account.
Facebook also announced that you can use Portals for work. Businesses with Portal devices can remotely manage and interact with employees. In addition to Zoom, BlueJeans, and Webex, Portal will support Microsoft Teams integration available in December. You’ll be able to use the smart displays to access shared calendars, contacts, and files, as well as chat with your coworkers through Microsoft’s office suite. I’m not sure we need yet another device to interact with colleagues but, it’s there if you want it.
The $350 Portal+ and $200 Portal Go are available to preorder now and go on sale Oct. 19.