Facebook today announced a new set of Portal video chat devices, including one that is aimed to compete in the streaming TV market. This device is called the Portal TV, and it connects to a TV set with a standard HDMI cable and can stream content as well as enable video calls through Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.
According to Facebook, video calling is the primary feature of Portal TV, because there aren’t many supported streaming apps announced as of today. Customers will be able to stream Amazon Prime Video, listen to Spotify, and download apps like Showtime, CBS All Access, Starz, Pluto TV, Red Bull TV, and Neverthink.
More apps are said to be coming soon, but Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and other popular platforms will not be on Portal TV at launch.
Speaking with Bloomberg, Facebook executive Andrew Bosworth said that the ability to video call friends and family on a TV-based device will make it unique in a crowded market. Bosworth went on to suggest that people will likely switch on alternative devices for their video streaming when they’re done video calling on Portal TV.
Otherwise, Facebook is also launching updated Portal devices in two new sizes: an 8-inch “Portal Mini” and 10-inch regular “Portal.” The new Portals have improved speakers, and a physical shutter so users can easily disable the camera and microphone.
Of course, with any news related to Facebook, the company has attempted to double down on privacy assurances. With the new Portal models, it said that users can opt out of the company accessing voice recordings collected by the Portal in their home. Facebook will transcribe some “Hey Portal” audio clips if users don’t opt out of it, however.
Bloomberg posted a separate story about this earlier today, detailing how Facebook “paused human review of audio” in August, while it worked on a way to give customers more control over the feature. The default option will still be for Facebook to automatically collect and transcribe “Hey Portal” commands, so users will have to be aware of this and navigate into their settings to opt out.
The Portal TV will cost $149, the Portal Mini will cost $129, and the Portal will cost $179. The Portal Mini and Portal will launch October 15, while the Portal TV is set to launch on November 5.