Facebook’s Portal Go is a portable version of its in-home surveillance tech


We’ve got quite a history of making fun of Facebook’s range of Portal devices and the new Portal Go, announced last night, is no different at all. We’re sure they’re very nice devices if you meet them in person but they seem, largely, to be all about scooping up more data for Mark Zuckerberg’s volcano-based, all-encompassing advertising AI.

Portal Go somewhere else

But for the first time, the surveillance tech made by Facebook has become a properly portable Portal. The Portal Go, which retails for about R3,000 (or $200, if you’re somewhere you can actually buy one), is a fabric-covered 10in 1,280 x 800 display with built-in Amazon Alexa — big whoop, Amazon’s made loads of kit like that, even if you account for the new 12MP front-facing camera that uses Facebook’s Smart Camera tech (that follows you around the room — which isn’t ominous at all).

This is also the first time Facebook has fitted its Portal gear with a battery. It lives in a charging dock but, if you want to talk to someone on your terms, you’ll get up to five hours of Messenger time away from wall-based power. If it’s used just as a portable speaker, then the Portal Go manages about fourteen hours on a charge.

Also announced was a revamped version of the Facebook Portal+, with an updated design and a slightly smaller display — a 14in 2,140 x 1,440 screen compared to the original’s 15.6in panel. It’s still Facebook’s largest, and it still looks like someone stuck a laptop screen on a pedestal but it’s adjustable and the price hasn’t changed from the 2018 original. The same Smart Camera-supporting 12MP front-facing camera is present. If you happen to want one, the new Portal+ will set buyers back about R5,200 ($350).

The social network isn’t unaware of its reputation for being… let’s say, information hungry, and the perceptions that come along with it. Both Portal products include camera lens covers, as well as buttons that disconnect the camera and microphones — just in case you’re seriously concerned that Mark’s spying on your private conversations.


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Brett writes for Stuff's digital platform and edits Stuff's print magazine, in between reading science fiction and every Batman comic he can get his hands on.

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