Available since November 15, 2023 in video game retail outlets, Sony's streaming accessory proved popular in the early days, resulting in some stock-outs. After several days' use, we can share with you our opinion of the PlayStation Portal, its advantages, shortcomings and limitations.
It's important to know that the PlayStation Portal is not a console, and is therefore not in the same category as the Nintendo Switch, the Steam Deck, a new PSP or a Playstation Vita. The PS Portal is an accessory that requires a PlayStation 5, enabling you to connect to it and play remotely.
The PlayStation Portal features an 8-inch screen with an integrated DualSens controller. The screen is touch-sensitive and based on LCD technology supporting 1080p at 60 frames per second. Sound-wise, two speakers are integrated at the top, and the unit supports headphones with an integrated 3.5 mm audio jack. Wireless headphones can also be connected to PlayStation Link-compatible accessories.
The vast majority of PS5 and PS4 games are compatible with the Portal, but not all VR games and PS Plus streaming titles will be usable. Streaming games are probably the biggest negative point for this type of accessory. The PS Portal box is fairly compact, and the unboxing experience is a success. The packaging is of high quality, and you'll find the Portal as well as a USB-C cable for recharging.
On first use, a sticker on the screen tells you how to switch on the Portal. Unfortunately, this instruction doesn't seem clear to us, and you'll have to hold down the ON button for several seconds to initialize the console. The first thing you'll be asked to do is configure the Wi-Fi network and the link with your PS5. This is followed by a lengthy two-part update, which should take around 15/30 minutes.
Wi-Fi network configuration is fairly standard in the case of this test, with the exception that the PlayStation 5 is directly connected via RJ45 instead of using Wi-Fi. In concrete terms, we had no lag problems. Depending on your network, this could be an obstacle to using the Portal. Sony recommends a Wi-Fi connection speed of at least 5 Mbps.
After several days of fairly intensive use on different games, we encountered very few problems with the Portal. The first game we tested was Patapon, and unfortunately it's one of the worst for Sony's accessory. Patapon is a rhythm game in which you control an army by making a key combination in rhythm with the music. On the PlayStation Portal, the sound is very slightly out of sync with the controls, making it impossible to perform combos. This lag is imperceptible in most games, but if you need to be in sync with the image, then you'll have to forget about playing it on the Portal.
The PlayStation operating system is adapted for streaming and will always provide you with an image within an acceptable timeframe for the game. On the other hand, in a game with demanding graphics like Final Fantasy XVI or Spider-Man 2, you'll have to deal with a less sharp image at some point, this compromise in image quality allows a functional response time for smooth gameplay.
If you lose connection with your PS5, the system will behave in the same way as when your PS5 controller runs out of battery. You'll need to reconnect with the X button, and your game will automatically be placed in the same location you left it.
Without being particularly ugly, the Portal isn't necessarily very pretty, but its grip is pleasant. Unsurprisingly, it feels just like a traditional PS5 controller. The console's various controls are strategically located and pleasant to use. One ergonomic point we would have liked to see would have been for the console to stand upright on its own.
Since the PS Portal displays the image you'd have on the PS5, if you had trouble reading certain menus and text on your TV, you won't have a better experience on the Portal, and certain games will be more complicated to read on a smaller screen;
The PS Portal's screen is an 8-inch, 1080p LED display. Although it's not an OLED screen, this technology does honor to games and remains very pretty. The screen is bright and offers vivid colors, the black is successful and the image is not pixelated. Unfortunately, you're more likely to see fingerprints and dust on this type of screen.
As far as the controller is concerned, we have a DualSens cut in two. The slight difference lies in the Joysticks, which are slightly smaller than those on the console. This shouldn't be a big adjustment, and you'll certainly find extensions in the future to make them bigger;
The other difference is that the DualSens touchpad is replaced by a touchscreen. The use of the touchpad on the Portal is probably this accessory's biggest flaw. Its use is unclear, and you first have to touch the screen to display two transparent rectangles that act as a touchpad. Since the problem lies in the software, there's no doubt that Sony will correct this accessibility problem, which makes certain games much less enjoyable;
The PS Portal's battery life is acceptable. Count on 5 to 8 hours, depending on the controller's brightness and vibration settings. You'll be able to charge it with the included USB-C cable. The port is located at the rear downwards in an ideal position so as not to disturb you while playing. Unfortunately, there's no charging dock yet that lets you put it down quickly.
Where the PS Portal succeeds very well is in quickly switching to games on a TV in portable mode without closing your game or screen. You can quickly leave your living room and head off to another room in your home or outdoors to continue your game. The PS Portal is also great for some lesser-quality retro games on a very large TV, as the reduced screen size will give a good rendering.
In our opinion, the PS Portal is 50 euros too expensive when compared with the price of a Nintendo Switch, which offers much more. On the other hand, it remains a good Sony accessory for different game scenarios. Although it has certain constraints, notably in terms of your connection, the PS Portal does very well what it's intended for.
Before buying PS Portal, you can simply test whether streaming gameplay works well at home and suits your needs with the PS Remote Play app on phone and tablet. This application is free and does the same job as PlayStation Portal.
- Streaming with the PS5
- Easy to use
- Charging time
- Proprietary audio accessory
- No streaming of PS plus games
- Touch pad management