In Summary
  • Amazon Echo Show and Google Nest smart screens can be used to make video calls, but Portal is tied into connections at Facebook, Messenger, and WhatsApp, which is encrypted end-to-end.
  • The Facebook-owned messaging apps as well as the social network itself are each used by more than a billion people monthly.

Facebook on Wednesday unveiled second-generation Portal smart screens, touting them as a way to stay connected to loved ones at the leading social network.

Facebook also pushed down costs to make new Portal, Portal Mini, and Portal TV devices more enticing to consumers at a starting price of $129.

Portal and Portal Mini will begin shipping on October 15, while a notepad-sized Portal TV device that turns a television into a smart screen for video calls and more will begin shipping on November 5 at a price of $149.

Facebook would not disclose how many Portal devices have been sold since they were introduced late last year, but said adoption has been strong enough to inspire second-generation models.

Shipments of smart speakers in the US last year nearly doubled to 57.5 million, with Amazon accounting for about 48 percent of the market and Google claiming nearly 39 percent, according to International Data Corp.

Amazon Echo and Google Nest smart devices use their respective digital assistant software to infuse in-home speakers and screens with voice-commanded intelligence.

SMART DEVICE CATEGORY

"We know the smart device category is packed and competitive; and those devices are great," Facebook augmented and virtual reality vice president Andrew "Boz" Bosworth said while providing a look at the Portal line-up.

"But, Portal is the only device that is going to connect you with people you care about; and I would contend that any smart device that doesn't do that isn't that smart at all."

Amazon Echo Show and Google Nest smart screens can be used to make video calls, but Portal is tied into connections at Facebook, Messenger, and WhatsApp, which is encrypted end-to-end.

The Facebook-owned messaging apps as well as the social network itself are each used by more than a billion people monthly.

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