Facebook is jumping into the smart display race with a new video communication device called Facebook Portal. It comes with built-in Alexa, supports voice commands, and is designed to rival similar screen-equipped smart speakers, including ones from Amazon itself.
Also: At last! A Facebook device in my kitchen
However, Facebook's Portal has AI-infused technology called "Smart Camera and Smart Sound," which uniquely allows it to follow you around the room and auto pan and zoom while also minimizing background noise and enhancing the voice of whoever is calling, so you can go hands-free during a video call. You can read more about how Portal works from here.
There are actually two versions -- the $200 Portal (10-inch 1280 x 800 display) and $350 Portal+ (15.6-inch 1080p display) -- and they're both currently available for preorder.
But if you don't want to give Facebook your money, or if you don't want to spend upward of $350, here are some Facebook Portal alternatives you can buy right now:
While there have been a handful of companies to announce smart displays in the past year, including LG with the ThinQ WK9 and Sony with the Smart Display, only a few of them are actually available to buy. Here are some options with the best pricing we've found:
Echo Show was one of the first smart displays to launch. It is an Alexa-enabled speaker with a 10-inch HD screen and 5-megapixel camera. (The original had a 7-inch screen, but Amazon recently has an updated model with a new screen, new speakers, and new fabric design).
It also features dual 2-inch drivers, a passive bass radiator, Dolby processing, eight mics with far-field technology, and the inclusion of an Zigbee controller. As a result, Echo Show can be used to check the weather, play music, video chat, "drop in" on trusted contacts, and setup and control compatible smart home devices without the need for separate hubs or apps.
The $230 Echo Show (2018 model) is available for pre-order, with delivery from Oct. 11.
Also: Amazon Echo Show 2.0 review: Bigger sound and better looks CNET
If you'd like to save money and buy last year's $130 model, which has a more angular, plastic design, you can order that, too. (You can also read our review of that version from here.)
Also: Amazon Echo Show review: Alexa with a touchscreen CNET
Echo Spot is basically an Echo Show combined with an Echo Dot.
It's a $130 Echo that can sit beside your bed for alarms. It features a 2.5-inch screen, which can be used for viewing Alexa skills and things like music lyrics and alarm times, but it can also be used to make video calls, thanks to a VGA front camera. It offers the same functionality as the Echo Show. The only difference is that it's smaller, and there's no Zigbee controller.
Also: Amazon Echo Spot review: Alexa's touchscreen fails to impress CNET
For those of you who prefer Google Assistant over Amazon Alexa, you may want to consider Lenovo's Smart Display, which is available either with a 8-inch HD touchscreen ($250) or a 10.1-inch Full HD screen ($200). Each presents an interesting rival to the Facebook Portal.
Both models are powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 624 processor and 2GB of RAM. They also have a 5-megapixel (720p) camera mounted on the front for video calling, as well as dual microphone arrays and support for Bluetooth and dual-band Wi-Fi. They also both listen for "Hey Google," so you can use them to set timers, start a call, play a game, and so on.
The 10.1-inch device is unique in that it has a 2-inch 10W full range speaker with dual passive radiator, while the 8-inch version comes with a 1.75-inch 10W speaker.
Also: Everything the Lenovo Smart Display can do CNET
If you want another Google Assistant option, there's always the $200 JBL Link View.
It offers an 8-inch HD touchscreen and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera for video calling. Now, because it is a Harman International company (a subsidiary of Samsung), it focuses on audio quality, with stereo 10W drivers and a dedicated passive radiator for bass level control.
It is also compatible with HD audio streaming, up to 24bit/96k, and it has both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. The speaker and screen is splash proof to IPX4 standard, too.
Also: JBL Link View review: Google Assistant gets a screen CNET
This last one was announced on Oct. 9 and is only available to preorder, with shipping from November. That said, Home Hub is not a true Portal alternative, as it doesn't have a camera for video chatting. It does, however, have a built-in AI (Google Assistant) and can be used to watch YouTube videos, view app integrations, display photos from Google Photos, and more.
It consists of a 7-inch screen that sits on top of a speaker base, and it's among the cheapest smart display options available, costing just $150 at launch.
Also: Google Home Hub joins the fight to put a screen on your countertop CNET
For more great deals on devices, gadgetry, and technology for your enterprise, business, or home office, see ZDNet's Business Bargain Hunter blog.
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