The New Portal

The social network giant Facebook's tentacles have extended from computers and mobile phones to the TV in the living room. On September 18th, Facebook released new hardware called "Portal TV". Although there is a TV in the name, this is an external device with a camera, which is similar in function to Apple TV but pays more attention to social elements.

Connect Portal TV to the TV through the HDMI interface, and you can use WhatsApp and Messenger for video chat. The camera of Portal TV will pan and zoom with the movement of the user. During the call, you can also add AR special effects to your image. This feature is also applied to the "Story Time" function of the device. Parents can wear different virtual costumes when telling stories to their children. Enhance the drama.

Synchronous viewing is another major selling point of Portal TV. If both parties are users of Portal TV, "Picture-in-Picture" allows you to watch videos simultaneously while chatting, but this feature only supports videos on Facebook Watch, even though Portal TV It also introduced programs from platforms such as Amazon Prime Video, Showtime, and CBS.

However, Watch, a video platform that came out in 2017, is mostly based on UGC and original programs. It is difficult to compete with YouTube and Netflix in terms of content. Although simultaneous watching sounds very attractive, its practicality may depend on Watch content upgrade.

"The TV has always been the main object in everyone's living room, but so far, it is mainly related to the person who physically interacts with the device," Facebook's vice president of consumer hardware Andrew Bosworth (Andrew "Boz" Bosworth) said TechCrunch said, "We see opportunities for people to interact with other people on TV."

Facebook, which experienced the Cambridge Analytica scandal last year, specifically emphasized the protection of user privacy on Portal TV. For example, WhatsApp video chats are point-to-point encrypted, the microphone is set with a close button, and the camera can be covered with a protective cover at any time.

Portal TV sells for $149, which is $30 cheaper than Apple TV's lowest price.

Not only Portal TV, but also two Portal tablets appeared at the press conference that day. The first-generation Portal tablet came out as early as last year, but it has never made waves in the market, and Facebook has not announced its sales data. The second-generation tablet has not only improved hardware but also has a price of 20 dollars cheaper.

The two tablets are the 8-inch Portal Mini and the 10-inch Portal. Compared with the previous generation, Portal has a narrower frame. In terms of functions, except for an extra screen that can be used as a digital photo frame in free time, the others are the same as Portal TV: Alexa voice assistant, video call, etc., microphone and camera can be used Turn off via the physical button in the upper left corner.

Portal Mini and Portal are priced at US$129 and US$179, respectively. The above-mentioned hardware has been pre-sold on Portal's official website, Amazon and Best Buy. The first countries to land are the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Italy, and France.

It is worth noting that the Portal series all use Facebook's self-designed operating system, so its significance is not only in the layout of the hardware field but also as the company's further ecological exploration.