Facebook unveiled Tuesday the third generation of its Portal video-calling devices and a new service that will allow businesses to deploy fleets of the devices to their employees.It shows Facebook is still bullish on video calling screens, and that it expects people will want to continue video chatting.The company first unveiled its Portal devices in 2018 and hasn’t revealed any sales numbers.But as companies continue to delay a return to the office, Facebook is capitalizing on a need to connect to colleagues and loved ones over video calls.It competes against Amazon ‘s Echo Show and Google ‘s Nest Hub products in the home.Highlighting the new models is the Portal Go, a $199 device with a 10-inch screen that can be lifted off of its charging block for use around the home.The Portal Go features a carrying handle and enough battery to last up to five hours of one-on-one calling via Messenger or 14 hours of listening with its screen off.Facebook also announced a new version of its Portal+, which will retail for $349 and feature a wide 14-inch display that can be tilted forward and backward.
The new Portal+ was designed to sit next to users’ computers on their desks for video calls.Facebook said it has better sound quality than the first version.They cost more than the older models.The current 10-inch Portal sells for $179 and the previous version of the Portal+ was priced at $279.
However, there’ll likely be revised promo prices for these devices later this year, Facebook’s head of product management for Portal Micah Collins said.The third-generation Portals are available for pre-order starting Tuesday and will begin shipping to customers on Oct.19.Additionally, Facebook announced Portal for Business, a service for small and midsize businesses that will allow companies to purchase, deploy and remotely manage Portal devices for their workers.
Facebook saw a fit for this type of service as more companies shift to remote and hybrid setups, Collins told CNBC.Portal for Business will launch in beta this year in the U.S.and will become more widely available next year, Collins said.”Portal is extremely useful given the amount of video connection we have to sustain during a workday, and that trend isn’t going away,” he said.In another effort to cater to professionals, Facebook will add Microsoft’s Teams work to Portal in December.
This will allow Portal owner to use their devices to access their Teams calendars, contacts, file sharing and chat functionality.Portal already supports other work apps like Zoom , BlueJeans and Webex..