Facebook intros Portal TV device with built-in camera

In addition to Portal TV, Facebook today also rolled out two new versions of the Portal device, including a Portal Mini. (Facebook)

Facebook is officially releasing a connected TV streaming device called Portal TV that includes a built-in camera for video calls and co-watching.

The device is priced at $149, and begins shipping on Nov. 5. It’s available in the U.S. and Canada, as well as the U.K., France, Italy, Spain, Australia and New Zealand.

Portal TV lets users download apps including Amazon Prime Video, Showtime, CBS All Access, Starz, Pluto TV, Red Bull TV and Neverthink. Noticeably absent from the list are Hulu and Netflix, but the company said it will add more apps soon. The device also includes Amazon Alexa integration for voice controls.

Apart from functioning as a connected TV streaming device, the Portal TV has an AI-powered smart camera that allows for video and WhatsApp calling, story time functions with augmented reality effects and a co-watching feature that allows users to watch together content from Facebook’s Watch service.

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Facebook’s plans for a new streaming device seem to have been in the works for a while now. Cheddar reported in October 2018 that Facebook was working on a camera-equipped device for connected TV video streaming combined with video calling.

In July, The Information reported that Facebook was talking with Disney, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and HBO about launching their video streaming services on Portal TV.

In addition to Portal TV, Facebook today also rolled out two new versions of the Portal device including a Portal Mini. Portal Mini is $129 and Portal is $179, but the company offers a $50 discount when customers purchase two Portal devices.