Facebook introduced Portal TV – a device that turns your TV into a giant video call screen – back in 2019. The device can already stream Netflix, lets you check who’s at the front door, has Alexa built-in, and more importantly, allows video calling. Until now, it had support for video calling via WhatsApp, Messenger, and Messenger Rooms. And now, it is getting support for another platform that has arguably defined video calling during the pandemic era – Zoom.
In addition to Zoom, Portal TV is also getting support for GoToMeeting. “Now, your favorite Zoom functionality extends to the largest screen in your home, so you can work from your couch as well as your desk. That includes joining breakout rooms for brainstorming in smaller groups, calendar integration to help you stay on top of your schedule, screen sharing to improve remote collaboration, and virtual backgrounds to improve your overall experience,” the company said in its blog post.
Priced at $129, the camera automatically does panning and zooming to make sure that you’re always in the frame. Plus, it adjusts the field of view so that more people can fit in the frame. Facebook has also baked in a Smart Sound feature that suppresses background noise and amplifies the voice of the speaker for more clarity. And for the sake of privacy, it comes with a physical sliding cover that covers the front camera when not in use.
Coming to the video calling aspect, Portal TV users can start a video call on Messenger Rooms with up to 50 people in it. Another cool feature is Story Time, which uses an AR overlay to turn you into a storybook character while reading a children’s story, complete with background music and animation effects. While the Portal line of products appears promising on paper, they haven’t gained much traction against competition from the likes of Google Nest and Amazon’s Echo range.