With the arrival of Facebook Ray-Ban Stories smartglasses commanding the recent spotlight, the tech world acted like it forgot about Facebook's first foray in consumer hardware — the Portal line of video calling devices.
Well, this is how Facebook reminds you about Portal, with two new models and a deeper push into positioning the devices for businesses.
Portal Go serves as Facebook's first portable model, with a built-in battery and dock for charging. Like the original model, Portal Go has a 10-inch display. It takes a step down with a 12MP camera, but the camera has a wider field of view at 125 degrees vs. 103 degrees for the original.
In addition, Facebook has refreshed its Portal Plus model with a tilting 14-inch display in landscape orientation, as opposed to the 15.6-inch portrait screen of the first-generation version. Like the Portal Go, the new Portal Plus comes with a 12MP camera, but with the widest field of view of the Portal series at 131 degrees.
For the rest of the specs, both devices have the same four-microphone array for audio input along with a pair of 5W full-range speakers and a single 20W woofer for audio output. Both devices support Amazon Alexa for voice interaction and run streaming apps like Spotify, Pandora, and iHeartRadio, in addition to the expected Facebook apps like Messenger and Whatsapp.
Beyond specs, the common theme between the new devices is adaptability. All Portal cameras have the capability to follow subjects within the field of view. With a battery and carrying handle, Portal Go doesn't have to be tethered to one area of the house. Likewise, with its tiltable screen, Portal Plus can be adjusted to match your position or posture.
Portal Go and the second-generation Portal Plus retail are available for pre-order for $199 and $349, respectively, and will begin shipping by Oct. 19.
Along with the new hardware, Facebook is doubling down on enterprise support. Starting in December, Portal will support Microsoft Teams, adding to its already well-rounded roster of video calling platforms that includes Zoom, GoToMeeting, Blue Jeans, and Webex.
That's not all. Facebook is also rolling out Portal for Business, a Facebook Work Account service that gives businesses administrative controls over its fleet of Portal devices. Currently in closed beta, the service enables businesses to deploy and remotely manage devices and user accounts via Portal Device Manager.
Due to social distancing and remote work policies ushered in by the COVID-19 pandemic, Facebook has landed a hit with its Portal lineup. And since the pandemic refuses to go away, it appears Portal is here to stay.
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