Sony’s PlayStation Portal, set to launch on November 15th, is a device that is manufactured for the singular purpose of streaming games via Wi-Fi from the PlayStation 5. Priced at $199.99, this gadget may seem to be aimed at a niche market, as it requires the user to already own the expensive PlayStation 5. Moreover, the Portal does not support cloud streaming like Nvidia’s Geforce Now or Sony’s PlayStation Plus Premium subscription, and it cannot run other applications, such as YouTube or Netflix. This begs the question: why does the PlayStation Portal exist? Even after spending a few days with the device, it remains unclear.
The hardware of the Portal adopts an ergonomic design, resembling two halves of a standard DualSense controller with an eight-inch LCD screen placed in between. The screen has a 1080p resolution and a maximum refresh rate of 60Hz, while the device supports Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) and is equipped with a 4,370mAh non-removable battery that charges via USB-C. Additionally, it features top-firing stereo speakers, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and compatibility with Sony’s new PlayStation Link-enabled headphones for lossless audio, although it does not offer Bluetooth connectivity. While these specifications are not particularly groundbreaking, it is important to note that the heavy lifting is done by the PS5 during gameplay.
In terms of its build, the Portal resembles an elongated DualSense controller, maintaining the controller’s haptics and adaptive triggers. Despite its somewhat clunky appearance, the device is relatively lightweight, weighing about 530 grams. The comfortable grips make it ideal for extended gaming sessions, although the analogue sticks may risk drifting over time, a common issue with DualSense controllers.
During extensive gameplay, the Portal delivered a familiar gaming experience, not unlike previous attempts with Remote Play from the PS5 to various other devices. The stability and streaming quality remained consistent, offering similar performance to other game streaming solutions. Nevertheless, the Portal does require a Wi-Fi connection, which may result in occasional connectivity issues.
In terms of game performance, titles that are well-suited for game streaming, notably single-player games, reportedly work seamlessly on the Portal. While there are instances where the gameplay looks near flawless, there are also occasions when artifacting is noticeable upon closer inspection. Furthermore, like any other game streaming device, the Portal may encounter occasional connectivity issues due to Wi-Fi instability.
The PlayStation Portal may be suitable for PlayStation enthusiasts seeking a dedicated tool for game streaming within their homes. It could serve as a convenient solution for gaming when the main TV is in use or for gaming in different rooms. However, the device’s price point of $200 may seem high for a single-use accessory to a $400-$500 game console, especially given the availability of other game streaming options that users may already own.
In conclusion, the PlayStation Portal is a purpose-built device that may find its niche among PlayStation enthusiasts. However, its limited functionality and relatively high price point raise questions about its viability in a market with existing game streaming alternatives. As the device’s launch date approaches, potential users and reviewers alike will be eager to further explore its capabilities and performance.