The much-awaited details of PlayStation’s upcoming portable handheld gaming machine are here. But before you rush to save money for the pre-order (it’s not shipping until late 2023), think about this: As we already knew, the PlayStation Portal is not a spiritual successor to PS Vita. But it’s also not a replacement for Steam Deck, or something like Logitech G Cloud, which specializes in handheld cloud gaming.
Portal is made only for streaming your own PS5 games
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Portal is designed only for Sony’s Remote Play technology, which means it only works if you have a PS5 already. Plus, the PS5 needs to be turned on and connected to the internet for it to work. The device will stream PlayStation games anywhere as long as it’s connected to strong wifi, on an eight-inch screen that supports 1080p resolution and 60fps. It will only support games that are already installed on your PS5 console, and ones that support the Dual Sense controller. For smooth gameplay, Sony recommends a 15 Mbps wifi connection.
Surrounding the screen are PlayStation 5’s DualSense controllers, with the same layout and haptic feedback you’re used to. While there’s no cloud streaming, Sony has done impressive work with its wifi streaming tech, which isn’t always dependable. Based on early tests done by IGN, gameplay was smooth and did not suffer from stuttering or lag. While that may be based on the ideal conditions of the test room, it’s encouraging, as the company’s previous remote play options offer an inconsistent experience depending on your connection.
Portal’s list of quirks is quite long
Now that you know what Portal does, it’s important to focus on what it can’t do. One of the most glaring omissions is Bluetooth, so you won’t be able to connect your regular pair of wireless headphones to Portal. Sony instead will offer their own low-latency, noise-cancelling buds and headphones that work using their PlayStation Link technology. The problem is that the Pulse Explore buds cost $199.99, the same as the Portal itself. The Pulse Elite headset costs $149.99.
There is also no local media playback of any kind. You can play media on it, but it will be mirrored from the PS5 itself. When it comes to battery life, Sony is promising the same battery life as the DualSense controller. Officially, that sits at 12 hours, but if you own a PS5, you know the battery can drain way more quickly depending on the use of haptics and speakers. Actual battery life won’t be clear until the reviews are out.
Lastly, we come to the price. Portal will cost $199.99 at launch, quite a lot for a wifi mirroring device. For $300, you can get Logitech’s G Cloud gaming handheld, which supports both Xbox Cloud gaming and GeForce Now—not to mention the fact that for $199, you’ll get the entire Nintendo Switch Lite gaming console.
Considering all this, we think it’s best to sit this one out.
Consider these alternatives instead: