PlayStation Portal, the PS5 portable player for when the television is busy

PlayStation Portal is not a portable console.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
26 November 2023 Sunday 10:31
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PlayStation Portal, the PS5 portable player for when the television is busy

PlayStation Portal is not a portable console. While Sony presents this new device as “a PlayStation 5 remote player”, there are those who refer to this product as “a remote gaming accessory”, or as “a PS5 controller with a screen”. Definition attempts aside, what is clear is that PlayStation Portal is a new piece of hardware that requires the user to have a PlayStation 5.

Sony's new device is one of those whose appearance can be misleading. In fact, it would not be surprising if more than one person experienced a resounding disappointment when connecting it thinking that it was a stylish portable PS5 and instead ended up with a 210 euro paperweight in their hands. Having made this clarification, we begin our assessment after spending a few days playing with the new toy from the Japanese company.

Although it may not seem like it at first, PlayStation Portal is a device designed for a very specific target audience. Basically, those people with a PS5 who may not always be able to play with it due to the television being used by another family member. This is the main use that can be given to what is no longer a DualSense controller split in half and with an 8-inch 1080p LCD screen embedded in the middle: to serve as a secondary screen for when the television is busy.

There will be those who imagine other purposes for the device, such as taking it to bed to play one last game of Marvel's Spider-Man 2 before going to sleep or even those who, unable to stop playing, have the audacity to take the machine to the sink. Be that as it may, what this accessory does is connect to PS5 via WiFi to stream the game, that is, instead of playing the content in the cloud, it is the user's console that runs the game and acts as a server.

A recurring question is whether PlayStation Portal can be taken out of the house to play, and the answer is yes. The only requirement to do so is to have the console in sleep mode, so that it can be activated remotely after connecting the device to a WiFi network with good connection speed. The closer the user is to the router, the better the game signal the device will receive. We ourselves have tested the possibility of playing miles away from our console and, beyond some sacrifices in image quality and control response time (the famous latency), we have been able to play with a certain normality.

It is important to note that the ability to connect remotely that PlayStation Portal boasts is exactly the same that can be done a decade ago with the "Remote Play" function that was already present on PS4. In this sense, the device does not offer anything really new beyond improving the experience with a device that already comes standard with the haptic and vibration functions of the PS5 DualSense controller.

Although PlayStation Portal feels like a robust and quality accessory, it also has a series of limitations that reduce its versatility and interest. The most serious in our opinion is the inability to use wireless headphones through the Bluetooth signal. In fact, it's not even compatible with the official PS5 headset. This seemed to us to be a glaring deficiency since it leaves users with only two options: use wired headphones through the minijack input or opt for the new PlayStation earbuds, whose price also exceeds the two hundred euro barrier.

Another disappointing aspect of the device is its inability to play content other than video games. For example, it is not possible to access the Netflix, HBO or YouTube applications on PS5 to watch a series or a movie, something that greatly diminishes the possibilities of this product. However, the biggest problem we have experienced has to do with its touch screen, which replaces the touch surface of the PS5 controller. The way to interact with this touch-sensitive surface has seemed unintuitive to us in several games we have tried, but with Alan Wake 2, where it apparently has some type of bug or incompatibility, the experience has been completely ruined.

The PlayStation Portal battery is between 6-8 hours, an autonomy that can vary depending on the volume at which we have the device and the intensity of the screen brightness. Despite its considerable price (219 euros), the device does not include any type of case in the box. Sony has not announced an official case either, something that suggests, once again, that this is an accessory designed almost exclusively for use at home as an alternative screen. It's funny how PlayStation Portal can be defined in very different ways, but, when it comes down to it, it serves very few purposes.