Published 2:24 PM EDT Sep 18, 2019
Facebook’s Portal, the social network’s foray into video chat hardware devices, is looking to expand to the big living room TV screen.
Facebook updated its line of video chat devices. The Portal, the original with a 10-inch screen, will cost $179, down $20 from 2018, and a new, smaller version, the Mini, has an 8-inch screen and $129 price. Both will begin shipping Oct. 15.
The $149 TV device will be available Nov. 5.
Alexa’s latest skill: Helping users donate to presidential candidates
Tech 101:Smart homes are becoming more popular. Here’s how to make sure yours is working
The TV unit and the new Portals all have Facebook’s artificial-intelligence-powered camera – which, unlike a traditional webcam, can follow you around the home, “giving you the freedom to move around during calls and still be seen and heard,” Facebook said.
On Portal, Facebook added the ability to make calls via WhatsApp, in addition to Facebook Messenger, which initially was the only option. As with the 2018 editions, users can watch video from Amazon Prime Video, Showtime, CBS All Access, Starz and Pluto TV. Music is available from Spotify, Pandora and iHeartRadio.
Facebook said in a company blog post that when the unit is awakened with the “Hey, Portal” command, it will respond by recording your query and making a transcription. “A trained team may review a sample to make our voice services smarter and more accurate for everyone,” Facebook said.
Having Facebook do even more monitoring of us may make some people queasy since the network is known for tracking us to sell advertisers targeted ads.
Is Facebook listening to me? Why those ads appear after you talk about things
Users have the ability to say no to Facebook and decline audio monitoring. The social network sends people concerned with its privacy issues to portal.facebook.com/privacy.
The initial Portal units didn’t find smashing success in a market dominated by Amazon and Google. According to market researcher Canalys, Facebook shipped about 6.6 million smart speakers in the second quarter of this year, compared with 4.3 million Google Home products. Neither the Facebook Portal nor Apple’s HomePod sold enough to make Canalys’ charts.
This week, Google introduced the latest in the line, the Nest Hub Max, which competes with Portal and the Amazon Echo Show. All three have 10-inch screens.
Additionally, it’s not a connected speaker or video display, but cable giant announced that it would give subscribers a free streaming box. The Xfinity Flex streaming box connects to popular streaming networks like Netflix, YouTube and Hulu.
The box competes with market leader Roku, which took a hit from Wall Street Wednesday in response to the news. Shares fell more than 14% in early trading.
Follow USA TODAY’s Jefferson Graham, (@jeffersongraham) on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.