If you're the kind of person who is more protective of their privacy, then the very idea of the Facebook Portal smart screen just might frighten the living daylights out of you. You take all the scandals surrounding privacy on Facebook, combine them with an omnipresent camera and microphone in the home, and now your entire life becomes an open book for Mark Zuckerberg. But that's convenient, right?

Facebook Portal: All Your Life Is Belong to Zuck

The Facebook Portal and Portal+ are not reinventing the wheel here. Instead, they're falling right in line with what an increasing number of consumers want in their smart homes. We started with having the Amazon Echo and Google Home speakers everywhere, but the latest trend is to add cameras and screens to all of them.

In this way, the Facebook Portal shares a lot of its DNA with the Echo Spot and Echo Show. In fact, it even has Alexa built into it, as well as its own voice-based smart assistant that you beckon with a "Hey Portal" the same way you'll be saying "Hey Google" to the new Google Assistant smart screen to be revealed this week.

In the most fundamental way, the Facebook Portal will serve a similar function. You can bring up video calls with loved ones via Messenger, you can display your Facebook photos as a smart picture frame, and you can do all the hands-free things you've always been able to do with Alexa too.

One of the more interesting features is something that they call the Smart Camera. The 12MP camera with a 140-degree field of view can "follow the action" automatically, so you can continue your video call even as you walk around the kitchen. And it'll do the usual streaming stuff like Spotify and Pandora, though it doesn't support YouTube or Netflix.

The smaller model of the two is the standard Facebook Portal for $199. It's got a 10.1" WXGA display, with 10W speakers (2 full-range drivers), and a 4-mic array. The larger is the Portal+ for $349 with a 15.6" FHD display (portrait or landscape), 20W of audio (2 tweeters with 4" bass), and the same 4-mic array for 360-degree pickup. They're taking pre-orders now and you get a $100 discount when you buy two Portals at once ($298 total).


But much like the Valve game that shares its name, we've got to wonder about Facebook Portal. How benevolent are you really, Zuck? Are your claims about privacy just like GLaDOS and her cake?

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