Unlike seemingly equivalent streaming devices like Google Chromecast and Amazon’s Fire sticks, Portal was first launched in 2018 as a smart screen device to rival the Amazon Echo Show and Google Home Hub (now Google Nest Hub). The product line came to the living room in September 2019, with the US$149 Portal TV which is a simplistic camera designed to sit atop or underneath a TV.
While video calling was always the focus, the device has added support for Amazon Prime Video, Showtime and Sling TV since its launch, but could never realistically compete as a streaming device without support for Netflix.
Now Facebook has announced that Netflix has launched on Portal TV in all countries where it is sold. Portal TV is only currently available in eight markets, including the UK, Spain, Italy and France.
Further aligning it as a streaming device, Facebook has also launched a new remote for the previously voice control-only Portal TV. Along with basic direction and volume controls, the remote also has a microphone, and dedicated buttons for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Facebook Watch.
Facebook has said that the remote is shipping now, but there appears to be no option to buy it on its own, instead it only seems to be available from Facebook bundled in with the Portal TV device at no extra cost.
Facebook also said that it is adding support for Spanish voice control across the entire Portal line in addition to English with the promise of more languages in the future. Users can also specify French, Spanish, Italian and English for on-screen text.
The device was initially met with some scepticism from data-conscious users and critics, launching shortly after Facebook was fined a record US$5 billion by the US’s Federal Trade Commission over privacy concerns.
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