We have been getting rumors for a while that placed Facebook on a race to deliver a smart speaker. Now it seems that they finally achieved it with the arrival of the Portal and Portal+. These devices come to compete directly with the Echo Show because they include a screen and the ability to make video calls.
The entry-level Portal has a price of $199 that is cheaper than the Echo Show. It has a 10” 720p display, and 2 integrated speakers. The Portal+ has a price of $340, and it includes a 15.6” 1080- display, louder speakers and a subwoofer, plus it can be placed either on landscape or portrait orientation. The basic downsides to these smart speakers are that they have no access to YouTube, web browsers or chat apps and other third-party apps. The good thing is that you get all Facebook apps plus Pandora, Spotify, iHeartRadio and The Food Network. They also work together with Amazon’s Alexa for basic operations, but we can expect more voice assistants to come with time.
If you’re worried about your privacy, Facebook has given you two ways of blocking the webcam, and microphone. The first one is by a physical button that disables them and camera cover. The most interesting part of this button is that it disconnects the camera from the circuitry, so there’s no way it can be turned on just by software. If you want one, you will have to wait until they go for sale next month.