Facebook’s Portal does exactly what the company says: it serves as a high-end home camera for video conferencing. With an improved design, this year’s iteration better blends into home decors, and with a lower price, it’s attainable for a wider group of people. What it doesn’t do, however, is offer any reassurance that Facebook has finally solved the privacy worry trifecta of always-listening voice assistants, self-activating video cameras and its own tarnished history with user data.
The new 10-inch device looks like a picture frame that could fit into a row of family photos on a mantelpiece. It can be situated in either portrait or landscape orientation, and its build quality is fine for a $179 device (there’s also an 8-inch Portal Mini for $129).
The star attraction of this product line is its wide-angle video camera, which can automatically follow a person and zoom in on them as they move around a room during a chat. It neatly combines the unnerving and the magical aspects of technology, and if multiple people are present in the frame, the camera will move between them as they are talking and users can choose a person to focus on at any time.