The social media giant Facebook has ventured again into hardware with the introduction of their latest offering: Facebook Portal, a video communication device. It has two models, Facebook Portal and Facebook Portal+ (10.1 and 15.6 inches, respectively).

Both deliver the same functionality, which is to support improved video chat via Facebook Messenger.

Of course, you might be wondering why you’d need Facebook Portal when you already have a mobile phone, tablet, or laptop that can already fulfill the same purpose, and more. Facebook Portal is a good device to own if any of the following reasons appeal to you:

AI-powered technology

Called “Smart Camera and Smart Sound,” this technology lets Facebook Portal follow you around the room using its 12-megapixel camera. It can zoom and pan automatically and accordingly as you move around. Therefore ensuring you always stay in sight no matter where you go (unless you leave the room). Thus, you’ll feel like the person you’re talking to is right there with you.

Voice commands

Facebook Portal has built-in Alexa, so you can ask it to do anything from playing a song to controlling the other smart devices in your home. In this aspect, Facebook Portal gives its earlier counterpart, the Amazon Echo Show, a good run for its money. But aside from supporting Alexa, Facebook Portal also supports voice command in general.

Third-party integrations

Currently, Facebook Portal is pretty much a standalone device with only one main purpose. But that’s bound to change soon. For starters, Facebook already is partnered with Food Network and Spotify Premium, to name a few. Expect to be able to run more apps and perform more tasks using Facebook Portal in a year or two.

Augmented reality

Facebook Portal aims to make video chat more interactive by incorporating AR effects, like stickers, graphics, and animations. It’s highly similar to how Snapchat’s Lenses work in Snaps. But Facebook Portal takes it to the new level with Story Time, a feature that lets you read a story to the party you’re talking to, and also become the character in that story thanks to the different effects available. A typical use case for this is when you’re away from home and want to read a bedtime story to your kid.

Business Uses

Based on the aforementioned features, it’s clear to see that Facebook designed Facebook Portal for use among family and friends. However, it’s great for office use as well, specifically for video conferencing. All Facebook needs to do is to integrate it with Workplace — the enterprise connectivity platform they developed. Thus making joining a video chat at work as seamless as it can be.

Whether Facebook decides to market Facebook Portal as a business tool is yet to be seen. However, you don’t have to wait for them to do so if you already want to use it at the office. Starting at $199, Facebook Portal is a more affordable and more portable than the alternative. As compared to bulky and costly conferencing systems. It also makes meetings more engaging, effective, and we dare say, entertaining.

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