Facebook launches 3rd-gen of its video chatting devices: Portal Go & Portal+

By Amirtha P S, Desk Reporter
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The US-based social media giant, Facebook unveiled the third generation of its ‘Portal’ video-calling devices, including its first portable version and a new service that will enable businesses to deploy fleets of devices to their employees.

The social media giant has not provided specific sales numbers of Portal, but a spokeswoman said there had been increased sales and usage during the pandemic, through which many companies shifted to remote working and more people stayed at home under lockdown measures. Facebook’s Portal competes against Amazon’s Echo Show and Google’s Nest Hub products.

Facebook, which is under scrutiny from regulators and lawmakers over its approach to user safety, privacy and content across its services, launched its first line of Portals in 2018. The smart-display devices, one of the company’s forays into selling hardware, let users make video calls, with cameras that automatically follow users around a room.

Updates in the new models announced last included a “household mode,” allowing users to share a Portal and control others’ access to their contacts and apps, and a way to watch TV through the product with others who are not using a Portal device.

Highlighting the new models is the Portal Go, a $199 device with a 10-inch screen that can be lifted off of its charging block for use around the home. The Portal Go features a carrying handle and enough battery to last up to five hours of one-on-one calling via Messenger or 14 hours of listening with its screen off. 

Facebook also announced a new version of its Portal+, which will retail for $349 and feature a 14-inch display that can be tilted forward and backward. The new Portal+ was designed to sit next to users’ computers on their desks for video calls. Facebook said it has better sound quality than the first version. The third-generation Portals are now available for pre-order and will begin shipping to customers from October 19.

Further, the company said it would start adding support for Microsoft Teams in Portal in December. The company reported $497 million in non-advertising revenue in the second quarter of 2021, which it attributed mainly to sales of its Oculus Quest 2 virtual reality headsets. Facebook last month launched a test of a VR remote work app where Quest 2 users can hold meetings as avatar versions of themselves.

Related: Google Meet rolls out auto-brightness feature to improve video-call visibility