Sony’s new PlayStation Portal, launching Nov. 15, is a $199.99 device that does one thing: It streams games over Wi-Fi to your home PlayStation 5, which you already have to own Sony’s pricier console.
It doesn’t do cloud streaming like Nvidia’s GeForce Now or Sony’s own PlayStation Plus Premium subscription, and it can’t play anything locally (not even YouTube or Netflix). The portal is designed to take advantage of a unique feature that Sony first introduced with the PS3 and PSP in 2006, and is widely available on other devices you already own, which makes me wonder: Why does it exist? After spending a couple of days with it, I’m still not sure.
Portal hardware is what you get after sticking an eight-inch LCD between two halves of a standard DualSense controller. The laminated screen has a resolution of 1080p and a maximum refresh rate of 60Hz – more than enough for this size display. It supports Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac), has a 4,370mAh non-removable battery that charges via USB-C, top-firing stereo speakers, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and it pairs with Sony’s new PlayStation Link-enabled headphones. . (Portal doesn’t offer Bluetooth connectivity.) These specs aren’t particularly special, but you have to remember that the PS5 is doing the heavy lifting here.
As for its build, if you’ve ever owned a DualSense controller before, you’ll understand what it’s like to hold a portal. It feels the way it looks: the DualSense is split in half and stretched in the middle to accommodate a 16:9 touchscreen. It also maintains DualSense’s nifty haptics and adaptive triggers. However, a fixed DualSense means that its analog sticks may eventually move after months or years of heavy/extended use (even the equally priced DualSense Edge is at risk, but can be fixed with replaceable stick modules).
The portal may look a little awkward and clunky, but it’s not too heavy. It weighs around 530 grams, which is more than 100 grams heavier than the Nintendo Switch OLED, but more than 100 grams lighter than the slightly stiffer Steam Deck. Compared to the Switch with standard Joy-Con controllers, the tradeoff in weight is made up of its larger grips, which are comfortable to use for extended gaming sessions.
I initially played a few hours with various PS5 games (Resident Evil 4, Rubicon’s Armored Core VI FireAnd Astro’s Playroom, to name a few) in my limited time with PlayStation Portal so far. One thing I can tell for sure right off the bat is that it feels familiar. At various points over the past couple of years, I’ve used Remote Play to stream games from my PlayStation 5 to my PS4, my PC, various Android devices, an iPhone, an iPod Pro, and a Steam Tech. Source software Chiaki. PlayStation Portal offers the same experience I’ve seen with those other solutions, being purpose-built and streamlining the process.
Pay $200 for it or use a slightly less elegant solution for free
Games that lend themselves best to game streaming — primarily single-player experiences that don’t require Twitch-y reactions with frame-perfect timing — still seem like a better fit on the portal. Just like when you’re streaming on an iPod or other device, while sometimes it looks flawless, there are times when you’ll notice some major artifacts by looking a little closer. Of course, there may be other times. Wi-FiAm I right?
We’ll have to keep using it to see if there’s much difference between using the PlayStation Portal and something like the Backbone One controller. My first impression is that this device is primarily for PlayStation diehards who want a simple, dedicated tool for streaming games around their homes. Maybe for taking games while the main TV is in use or to other rooms like the bedroom or bathroom (if you’re fine with that). Flagged devices), but $200 is a bit pricey for a single-use accessory for a $400–$500 game console — especially when you get so many options that you already own.
Photo by Antonio G. Di Benedetto / The Verge
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