Facebook has added Zoom calling to Portal TV, providing users with the ability to make video calls for work or pleasure on a much bigger screen
Facebook is adding Zoom support to its Portal TV devices, allowing users to hold conference calls on the big screen. Zoom had already been made available on Portal Mini, Portal, and Portal+ in the past. Now, and more than one year into a pandemic that’s forced many in the workforce into a work-from-home environment, Portal TV is joining the club.
The original Facebook Portal was released in 2018 as a Facebook-branded smart display that allowed users to make video calls and interact with friends and family through the use of a webcam and monitor. The Portal TV came along in 2019 as a slightly different variation on the Portal. It still features a webcam, but plugs into a TV via an HDMI cable to utilize a user’s flat screen as a monitor capable of performing video calls.
With the incredibly popular video calling service Zoom now coming to the Portal TV, Facebook says it brings the ability to interact in a professional sense through breakout rooms or smaller groups from the comfort of a user’s couch. Or, as the company noted, social Zoom calls can take place on a much larger screen than ever before. Even with these benefits, though, there are real concerns about whether or not to actually trust the Portal TV – or, more specifically, the company that owns it – as a tool for conducting Zoom calls.
Zooming On Portal TV Might Not Be A Good Idea
As enticing as the idea of a big-screen Zoom session may be, the Portal TV can be a problematic product. When it was first released, CNET wrote a “review” of the device that advocated against buying one. Not because of the device’s functionality, but because of Facebook’s history of allegedly misusing data and its controversial actions regarding its increasingly polarizing social media platform. Two years later, the same issues are still plaguing Facebook. Just recently, it came under fire for letting the personal data of 533 million Facebook users leak online. That’s not the sort of breach that promotes confidence in a device that comes equipped with an active microphone and camera, one that Facebook touts for its ability to “automatically pan and zoom to keep up with the action.”
For many who regularly use Zoom for both work and fun, maybe the inclusion of the video-calling service is enough for them to invest in a Portal TV and let their privacy concerns take a back seat. Truthfully, that’s the only realistic scenario where a Portal TV makes sense – when users don’t place as significant of a value on data security. Facebook can (and does) try to reassure consumers that it protects their privacy as much as it can, but there are still too many data issues circling Facebook, and on a consistent enough basis, to be a warning against putting a Portal TV in the living room.
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