Review of Sony’s PlayStation Portal

Sony’s PlayStation Portal is a remote-play device that lets gamers play their PS5 games on the go. The device looks like a DualSense controller chopped in half with an 8-inch LCD screen propped in the middle. It also maintains the DualSenses haptics and adaptive triggers.

The Portal is designed to do one thing, and it does that well. But does it have what it takes to compete with handhelds like the Switch and Steam Deck?

1. The Basics

The PlayStation Portal is a $200 handheld that lets you play PS5 games anywhere you have Wi-Fi access. It’s a little different from other portable gaming consoles like the Switch and Steam Deck, though — you can’t use it without an existing PlayStation 5 system and you can’t play games over the cloud.

The Portal looks a lot like a DualSense controller split in half and slapped onto an 8-inch, 1080p LCD display. That’s good news for fans of the ergonomic design and haptic feedback of Sony’s award-winning controllers, but it also means the Portal doesn’t have Bluetooth functionality (it supports only Sony’s new Pulse Elite and Pulse Explore headsets), or cloud streaming.

The display does a good job of translating PS5 visuals into a portable format, and battery life is solid at about 8 hours on a full charge.

2. Streaming

While the Portal does deliver on its primary purpose as a handheld PS5 remote-play device, it feels less useful than competing standalone gaming devices like the Razer Edge. This is largely because the Portal only runs games streamed via Remote Play, and there are plenty of other ways to do that from a phone, tablet or PC.

Moreover, it doesn’t support VR games or even cloud streaming for PS5 games, which feels like an obvious omission for a $200 console that’s designed exclusively for this use case. That said, the Portal is still a good choice if you want to tackle your backlog of PS5 games without interrupting other people in your house with Kratos’ rage or a full unblocked games 66 of FromSoftware’s roguelike Elden Ring.

3. Design

The Portal’s design is a distinctly PlayStation take on the modern gaming handheld. It essentially takes a DualSense controller and slams an LCD screen in between, offering all of the functionality of the controller halves including adaptive triggers. The eight-inch display offers 1080p resolution at 60 fps, which isn’t bad for an LCD panel.

One of the more interesting things about the Portal is that it runs on Google’s Android operating system, albeit with a bespoke Sony UI sat on top. This could open up the device to modders and tinkerers in the future, potentially allowing it to run apps like YouTube or Spotify, or even offer cloud game streaming from other consoles besides PS5. It’s an intriguing little gadget that can still feel a bit limited though.

4. Performance

The Portal’s form and function may resemble other dedicated handheld gaming devices like the Nintendo Switch or Steam Deck, but it isn’t meant to work that way. Instead of being able to install games on the device, the Portal is designed solely to stream games from your home console using Wi-Fi.

This is a major downfall, as it means you won’t be able to use apps like YouTube or Spotify on the portable, and it also blocks cloud streaming for PS Plus games. It’s a strange limitation that feels utterly at odds with the rest of the device’s features.

The good news is that the Portal does perform well at its one job, with CNET’s Scott Stein praising the device’s familiar control scheme and streaming quality. However, the lack of Bluetooth support for accessories and rocky performance with Sony’s new Pulse Elite wireless headset and Pulse Explore earbuds are notable negatives.

5. Conclusions

With the PlayStation Portal, Sony has essentially sliced its DualSense controller in half and glued an 8-inch screen to it. The result is a handheld that allows gamers to play PS5 games without their TVs. It’s a fun idea, but one that comes with some annoyances. For starters, the Portal lacks Bluetooth support. This may have been done to keep the price down, but it feels like an odd omission.

Other annoyances include the Portal’s inability to use third-party apps and the fact that you can only connect a pair of the company’s new $200 Pulse Explore earbuds to it for wireless listening. If you can look past these drawbacks, the Portal is a fun gadget that’ll let you play PS5 games on the go.

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