Facebook's New Portal Devices Are Smaller and Support WhatsApp

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Facebook is slashing the price and the size of the Portal, its screen and camera-equipped gadget for making video calls with friends and family as it attempts to get the device into more homes.

There's also the option to tune into Facebook Watch videos, and watch them with other people connected to your Portal - like a remote viewing party - and with these new models, WhatsApp calling is supported alongside Facebook Messenger. The device looks like a smaller Microsoft Kinect, and it has the same smart tracking technology as the Portal displays, allowing you to wander around the room while on a video call.

There's a camera on the front of the device, facing into the room, with a physical camera shutter - like that on the Echo Show 5 - allowing you to feel safe that you aren't accidentally being spied on. There are three new Portal models: Portal, Portal Mini and Portal TV.

Be aware that Facebook will know what you're viewing with the Watch Together feature, just like it would if you're watching video on other Facebook properties. In addition, Facebook is also releasing a revamped version of its main Portal smart screen for $179 while also unveiling a smaller Portal Mini screen for $129.

Facebook's other new Portal device has no analog in last year's lineup. Portal TV also supports numerous streaming services such as Prime Video, Showtime, CBS All Access and Starz.

Image Source Facebook
Image Source Facebook

At the center of all these devices, as with previous Portal hardware, is video calling (via Facebook Messenger). There's even a Superframe feature that turns the device into a digital photo frame.

So what does the Portal TV do, and do you want it clipped to the top of your TV? The Portal TV will start shipping on November 5. From what we've seen, you get the same Portal interface and capabilities, including integration with Alexa and the in-house Portal smart assistant.

The changes made to the new 10-inch Portal as well as the addition of an 8-inch Portal Mini seem to address some of the complaints people had about the original device. Both of them follows the sleek picture frame design.

The Portal TV differs considerably from the rest of the Portal range in its appearance, given it doesn't ship with a screen of its own - relying instead on a television to display calls and the Portal interface. "We wanted this device to fit into every home easily", said Facebook VP Andrew Bosworth during a press briefing Tuesday.

Facebook is also expanding Portal beyond the US and Canada with these new products. You can now buy them in UK, France, Italy, Spain, Australia and New Zealand along with USA and Canada.

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