Facebook unveils redesigned Portal, all-new Portal Mini and Portal TV

Facebook unveils redesigned Portal, all-new Portal Mini and Portal TV
Left to right: New Facebook Portal, Portal Mini, Portal TV

Launching a couple of smart home devices with built-in cameras and microphones just months after the eruption of the massive Cambridge Analytica data scandal seemed like a big gamble on Facebook's part, but today's introduction of three new Portal models suggests the two original variants have been relatively successful.

Interestingly, last year's jumbo-sized Portal+ is sticking around at a reduced price of $279, while the 10.1-inch "regular" Portal is getting a major redesign. The second-gen Facebook Portal is replacing its $199 predecessor and starting at $179, with brand-new Portal TV and Portal Mini versions fetching $149 and $129 respectively.

In case the name doesn't make it clear enough, the Facebook Portal Mini sports a diminutive 8-inch touchscreen with the same HD resolution as its slightly bigger brother. That makes this a direct rival for Google's 7-inch Nest Hub that typically retails for $129 rather than Amazon's truly pint-sized $90 Echo Show 5. Unsurprisingly, the revised Facebook Portal and first-ever Portal Mini share a general design language in addition to a display pixel count, strongly resembling a picture frame to better fit with your living room decor.


The two smart displays can essentially do the same things, making video calls with Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, playing music from Spotify, Pandora, and iHeartRadio, and even streaming video using Amazon's Netflix competitor. Speaking of Amazon, it's definitely important to highlight the e-commerce giant's Alexa voice assistant is what makes these bad boys smart, along with "Hey Portal" commands and AI-powered Smart Camera technology. 

The latter offers an unrivaled degree of flexibility during video calls, allowing you to move and talk freely while always staying in the frame. In addition to a camera that basically follows you around the room, Facebook is also equipping the Portal and Portal Mini with Smart Sound functionality that minimizes background noise and enhances the speaker's voice to ensure total and constant clarity. If you're worried about potential privacy violations, you should know both the camera and microphone are easy to disable, all AI tech runs locally instead of storing data on Facebook's own servers, and your voice "interactions" can be routinely deleted with minimal effort as well.


As far as the Portal TV is concerned, its goal is pretty simple - to bring "smart video-calling to the largest screen in your home." As such, the sleek and lightweight device doesn't come with its own display or integrated speaker, connecting to your standard TV set via HDMI to essentially enable the same smart features as the Portal and Portal Mini. Up for pre-order right now, the Portal TV will begin shipping November 5, while the Portal and Portal Mini are slated for a joint October 15 commercial debut.

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2 Comments

1. JackWolfe

Posts: 12; Member since: Dec 06, 2018

I'm just baffled at the people who willingly give Facebook, of all sh!tty and corrupt corporations, money to spy on them.

2. macawmatt

Posts: 138; Member since: Feb 20, 2012

Level of trust is something I consider when adding smart home stuff in my house, unfortunately FB doesn't have it. Still like their camera that follows you around the room though.

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