Facebook’s Alexa-powered smart display is called Portal, and it’s enormous

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The toaster-size gadget, along with a larger $350 version called Portal+, is a cross between a smart speaker, video camera and digital photo frame.

Created to rival the Amazon Echo Show, the Portal will retail for $199 (around £150 / AU$280), whereas the larger model, the Portal+, will cost $349 (£270 / AU$495), with Facebook's current deal of $100 off any two devices meaning you can get both for $298 if you're a USA customer.

For more robust voice-activated assistance, Portal also has Amazon Alexa built in, so you can ask your new video calling device for weather updates, news, and more, just like the Amazon Echo.

The company's Portal smart display is a 10.1-inch 720p device with a 12MP front camera. Portal and Portal+ are 10- and 15-inch smart displays complete with integrated cameras and packed with AI.

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Portal and Portal+ are available now for pre-order in the United States - from Facebook at portal.facebook.com, as well as Amazon and Best Buy - and will begin shipping in November. They will begin shipping in November.

It only takes a single tap to disable both the microphone and camera.

Facebook on Monday launched a range of AI-powered video-calling devices, a strategic revolution for the social network giant in its bid for a slice of a market now dominated by Amazon and Google. As of today, all listeners across ad-supported, Plus, and Premium tiers can play their music on Pandora using the power of their voice with Alexa, or share their favorite tunes while chatting with up to six friends directly on Portal's touchscreen interface. All video calls over Portals are encrypted. You can use the AR effects with a feature called Story Time to "bring stories to life with custom sound effects and visuals".

Unlike the Echo Show and Lenovo Smart Displays, which are more general-purpose devices, the Portal is centered around video chats through Facebook Messenger.

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Facebook's advantage over other video-chat services: Chances are, nearly everyone you might want to call already has an account. If not, you'll want to avoid Portal, its new smart displays focused on video chat.

But the launch of a product putting a camera into homes is likely to raise privacy issues for the social media giant, which has suffered several data breaches this year involving tens of millions of user accounts. As a camera, it offers a nice upgrade to the Skype or FaceTime video-chat experience that many of us have on a phone or computer. They are the first Facebook-branded hardware products. Facebook is also providing users with the option to set a 4 to 12-digit passcode for Portal before anyone can use it. If you buy two devices together you'll also get a $100 discount. The device only sends voice commands to Facebook's servers after the words "Hey, Portal" are said, according to Camargo.

The Portal uses an array of four far-field microphones that records your conversations picks up your voice commands and a 12MP wide-angle camera that watches you sleep lets you make video calls. The two devices are priced at $199 and $349 respectively and are available from Facebook, Amazon, and Best Buy.

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