Facebook Portal is the social media giant's way of putting a sophisticated camera in your home, but a recent streak of data breaches might spell trouble for the company's first branded product.
Looking at the specs, Facebook Portal is basically a tablet on steroids. It will come in two versions, a regular and plus size, and will be available in November for $199 and $349 respectively. What that gets you is something that resembles Amazon's Echo Show, adding dedicated software to really make video chatting a charming experience.
Early reviews of the product actually look pretty formidable. Aesthetically, Facebook Portal is actually pretty stylish. It looks a lot like Amazon's Echo Show and has a really sleek appearance for both models. Facebook Portal Plus actually has a built-in stand and allows the screen to rotate for two totally different experiences. A wide-angle camera produces video calls with extreme clarity with a pair of tweeters and a small subwoofer giving strong audio fidelity for both chatting and listening to music. It appears that Facebook is adding a microphone mute button and a camera cover for all your privacy concerns.
The software appears to be running a little lean (which is fine) running only a handful of compatible apps. Thankfully, it comes with Amazon Alexa baked into it. The built-in Facebook messenger program can also face track and gives a really stable zoom and pan that can follow faces around a room. That same tracking software can add face filters the same way Instagram or Snapchat can, adding a little bit of quirkiness to the entire experience. Facebook is also experimenting with a storytelling mode that added a Three Little Pigs animation so that you can create an entire atmosphere if you are chatting to kids. Hopefully, they continue to grow that idea as it actually seems like a pretty creative tool.
But the real question is, will consumers trust it? Facebook recently revealed that nearly 90 million users accounts were affected in some manner and that they largely don't know how the severity of that impact. It then began to block news about the article, actively blocking any criticism. And it wasn't too long ago that CEO Mark Zuckerberg was on trial for allegedly playing a major role in the Cambridge Analytics data scandal, a manuever that harvested personal data without consent.
While Facebook Portal has some really nifty tricks and a pretty aggressive price point, it has a long road to climb before it seems widespread consumer adoption.