Facebook Wants to Get Inside Your House With Portal

(Facebook Portal+)

Facebook is launching its new Portal and Portal+ home "speaker" systems and hoping that you'll also use it to call your grandma.

Smart speakers have become a billion dollar industry. Companies like Apple, Google, Sonos, Amazon, Lenovo and now Facebook have all gotten into the game. Long gone are the days when you have a bulky stereo receiver with speakers and cables. The internet freed up our music library. By being able to stream directly from an app or a personal source, you really don't need all the bells and whistles if you just want mediocre sounding music.

facebook portal 2.png
(Facebook Portal)

But smart speakers are also trying to become more than just speakers. They're trying to become the communication hub to your world.

Facebook's new Portal and Portal+ aim to do just that. They even look more like phones from a 90s sci-fi movie than they do smart speakers.

The regular Portal is priced at a modest $199 and the Portal Plus at $349. There's some really advanced hardware in them as they both have tracking software to always keep you in the frame if you're talking to someone. It will literally track you while you walk to the fridge and back and not move the screen. They both also feature SNAP like AR filters that give you bunny ears and giant puppy tongues if you want.

But the main question is this... who is this for? Every smartphone has the ability to do a video chat through either FaceTime, What's App, Google chat or a bevy of other programs. iPads, Kindle Fires, and Android tablets offer the same. Actually, no, they don't.

You see outside of Facebook Watch, the new Facebook Portal doesn't have streaming options like YouTube, Netflix, HBO or many other services.

It's also limited to talking on Facebook messenger, so, you still have to be on Facebook. Is anyone still on Facebook? Privacy is a big concern when adding a smart device to your home and Facebook itself has not been that trustworthy in the past. It seems they're trying to let you know it's safe to put a dozen of these in your home by adding these security features.

facebook portal privacy.png

It also has Alexa built in and can double as a motion frame, playing photos from your Facebook account when you're not using it.

At this price point, it's way too expensive for its limited use for the average consumer. Also, with Alexa built in, do you really want Amazon and Facebook to have more of your data? The Portal and Portal+ are available to pre-order now on Facebook.