Facebook announces Portal TV, yet another device they couldn’t pay us to keep in the house


We haven’t seen any numbers about sales but Facebook’s Portal must have done okay. Why else would they announce a slightly different version, called the Portal TV, for connecting to your television set?

Because, well… that’s a thing that’s just happened. Facebook, they of Cambridge Analytica and a whole host of other privacy scandals, leaks, and breaches, wants to stick another device that collects data into your home. And this time, you’re providing the display.

A magical portal to TV-land

You might remember that the original Portal was basically Facebook Messenger: The Hardware. Portal TV is a lot smaller and connects to a TV screen. It’ll function, in part, as a streaming device like a Chromecast or Roku. Apps that’ll be available at launch include Amazon Prime Video and Spotify, as well as some of those American services we don’t get here. Netflix and other prime streaming platforms like HBO won’t be available at launch.

But it’s as an expensive webcam that listens to you (you’ll do most of your controlling via voice) that the Portal TV will see its main use. Video calls via Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp can be initiated and conducted, with the company’s Smart Camera tech following faces around the room. There are various AR features, borrowed from Instagram and Snapchat (‘borrowed’, in the latter case) and there’s also a picture-in-picture mode so you can keep an eye on the rugby while chatting to the in-laws. All of this sounds great. It’s just a pity it’s made by Facebook.

Trust us (Ts&Cs apply)

But, this time, everything it collects will remain safe, says Facebook. The company explains that users can opt out of Facebook accessing the recordings the device makes. That’s… not making us feel any better. Having users opt-in to Facebook harvesting data makes a ton more sense. Especially since users are paying actual money for these devices. You kinda expect some data collection when a service is free (you are the product then, after all) but when you’re paying for it? Yeah, that’s quite cheeky, Facebook.

Still, if you’re one of those folks who don’t mind Facebook hardware in your home, the Portal TV will set users back $150 (R2,200, give or take an exchange rate). That one launches on 5 November this year. There’s a revamped Portal Mini and stock Portal headed to market a little earlier, on 15 October. Those’ll cost $130 (R1,900-ish) and R180 (close to R2,650) respectively.

Source: via MacRumours


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1 Comment

  1. Ruan Pienaar on

    For those of us who emigrated, this is an excellent way to connect with our family in SA. It would be great to see more of these in households to keep in touch.

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