According to the report from Cheddar, the hardware device will available in two screen sizes (a la the Lenovo Smart Display), with prices starting at a hefty $300. The variant with the larger display is said to retail for as much as $400.
The device will allegedly have a wide-angle camera up front, and will rely heavily on artificial intelligence technology to enhance the user experience. For example, the report gives the example that AI will be used to recognize the user and track them as they move around a room. If the tracking sounds a bit creepy, Facebook has reportedly included a physical privacy shutter to block the camera when not in use.
In a somewhat surprising move, Portal is said to have full integration with Amazon Alexa, which means that it should be able to tap into the many thousands of Alexa skills available and serve as a digital hub for your smart home. We'd also imagine that there will be a tight integration with Facebook including quick access to your Newsfeed, videos, notifications and even Facebook Messenger.
With that being said, we have our doubts about the prospects for Portal. For starters, Facebook is just a few months removed from a massive privacy scandal that resulted in founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg being hauled before Congress. A Facebook-branded standalone hardware device with a built-in camera (even with its privacy shutter) is going to be a non-starter for many people.
Secondly, that price tag is going to cause many pause. A $300 starting price puts it well above the standard-bearer for this class, the Echo Show. As previously mentioned, the second-generation Echo Show is priced at $229, but the first-generation model sold for as little as $129 on sale (which seems to be a more palatable price point for such a device in the first place).
We'll have to wait until next week to see what Facebook really has in store for us, and if it will indeed come with that wallet-robbing price tag.