Facebook Launches a Kinect-like Device That Lets You Make Video Calls on Your TV

Posted on September 18, 2019 by Mehedi Hassan in Hardware, Social with 5 Comments

Facebook is launching a new generation of its Portal devices today. The company’s original Portal devices launched first in October of last year, though the success of those products was hindered by privacy concerns surrounding Facebook’s brand.

Today, the company is launching a new kind of device under the Portal line. It’s called Portal TV, and it looks a lot like the Microsoft Kinect. At $149, the Portal TV lets you connect the device to your TV to make Messenger and WhatsApp video calls on the big screen. Facebook says WhatsApp video calls made on the Portal TV are end-to-end encrypted, while Messenger calls are encrypted in transit.

Like the regular Portal devices, the Portal TV comes with the Smart Camera feature which automatically pans and zooms into the subject of a video during video calls. It also includes an 8-mic array to let you speak to Alexa.

In terms of the actual TV-related features, there isn’t a lot to talk about here. Portal TV lets you watch videos from Facebook Watch, even while you are in a call. It also supports Amazon Prime Video, SHOWTIME, CBS All Access, Starz, Pluto TV, Red Bull TV and Neverthink, but there’s no sign of a Netflix app for now. For music cans, the Portal TV supports Spotify, Pandora and iHeartRadio. Facebook says more apps are coming soon.

Of course, Facebook is putting a lot of focus on privacy here, and so the company has included a single sliding switch over the camera that lets you physically disable the camera, and there’s also a simple button on the side that lets you disable the microphone and camera.

The new Portal TV is available for pre-order now, and you can even get $50 off if you buy any two Portal devices at once. Facebook is also expanding the Portal line to the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Australia and New Zealand.

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