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Facebook's Portal Video Chat devices are launched today

Facebook's Home Cinema Chat Devices, Portal and Portal Plus, are on sale today, one month after they were first announced.

The products are almost exclusively focused on video chat. While they also show pictures, play music and support a small number of video networks, their feature sets are very limited by launch – you can not even browse Facebook on them.

You are primarily meant to use them to chat with people over Facebook Messenger, and Facebook has built some smart camera tricks to make it easier. Both devices have a single camera at the top, but the camera will zoom in and follow you so you do not have to keep a phone on your face while chatting. That way you can move through a room and remain engaged in a conversation.

But the story about this product is not just what it can and can not do ̵

1; that is, people will be willing to bring a Facebook-connected microphone and camera into their home at all. Facebook has emphasized the privacy features built-in here (it's a button that completely deactivates the camera), but it may not be enough to comfort those who are already skeptical of the company who have been concerned with recent privacy scandals.

Both Portal and Portal Plus are shipping today. They will be available from Facebook's website, as well as through Best Buy and Amazon, which also want the devices in the stores. The smaller portal sells for $ 199, and the larger Portal Plus goes for $ 349. At launch, you will be able to get a $ 100 discount if you buy two at once – something that makes sense because you probably want another portal user to chat with.

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