Sony PlayStation Portal Review – Is It Worth Buying ?

Join us today as we unbox and explore the brand-new PlayStation Portal for the PS5. We’ll set it up, discuss its features and benefits, and address any potential issues or limitations. If you’re considering purchasing one for yourself or someone else, this article will hopefully help you make an informed decision. This article is on Sony Playstation Portal review.

All opinions expressed in this article are entirely our own.

PlayStation Portal Unboxing: Contents

Inside the outer sleeve, we find a gray cardboard box with the PlayStation logo and symbols. Removing this box reveals the PlayStation Portal itself. Underneath the top cover, we discover a USB-C charging cable, which is essential for charging the device. The packaging also includes a manual.

Upon first impression, the PlayStation Portal exudes a premium look and feel. Its sleek design and solid construction make it a visually appealing and well-crafted accessory.

PlayStation Portal: A Closer Look

The PlayStation Portal’s design closely resembles other PS5 accessories, but it feels noticeably more substantial and premium. The 7-inch screen is well-integrated into the device, and the overall thickness is appropriate for durability without feeling bulky.

The controller-like buttons include the standard D-pad, share button, icon button, menu button, PlayStation home button, and mute button. The L1, R1, L2, and R2 triggers are slightly smaller than those on a standard DualSense controller but retain the same adaptive trigger functionality. The thumbsticks are also slightly smaller but comparable to those on the PSVR2 Sense controllers.

LED strips flanking the screen match the color scheme of the PS5 controller, and their brightness can be adjusted or disabled in the settings. Two speakers, volume controls, the power button, a link button for compatible headsets, a USB-C charging port, and a 3.5mm headphone jack are located along the top edge.

Overall, the PlayStation Portal’s design is well-executed and complements the PS5 aesthetic. Its comfortable grip, appropriately sized screen, and familiar PlayStation branding make it an appealing accessory.

PlayStation Portal: Setup

The PlayStation Portal’s initial setup is straightforward. On-screen instructions guide you through the process. Power on the device, select your Wi-Fi network, accept the terms of service, and download the latest software update. This took approximately 15 minutes in our experience.

Sign in to your PlayStation account, conveniently using the QR code that automatically logs you in on the PlayStation app. Select your PS5 to register it. The setup is complete within 15-20 minutes.

No additional app installations are required. Simply press the power button followed by the PlayStation button to establish a direct connection. Upon connection, you’ll have full control over your PS5, including the dashboard and installed games. The responsiveness is impressive, with no noticeable lag during dashboard navigation.

PlayStation Portal: Display

The PlayStation Portal boasts an impressive 8-inch full HD LCD screen. Text clarity is exceptional, and the display is sharp, vibrant, and bright. Despite being a non-OLED screen, it surpasses expectations and ranks among the best we’ve encountered. The glossy finish enhances color vibrancy and contrast without compromising black levels. However, reflections can occur depending on the usage environment.

Regarding screen size, 8 inches appears to be the ideal balance for gaming. It’s not too small to hinder enjoyment, yet not so large that it becomes cumbersome to hold. For comparison, the Switch, ROG Phone Ally, and Logitech G Cloud all feature 7-inch screens, while the iPhone within the Backbone controller measures 6.1 inches.

Overall, the PlayStation Portal’s display delivers a remarkable visual experience, perfectly complementing its gaming capabilities.

PlayStation Portal: Gameplay and Features

The PlayStation Portal’s primary purpose is to enable remote PS5 gaming. It requires an active PS5 set to either on or rest mode to establish a connection. With a robust Wi-Fi connection, the device performs well, with minimal lag and occasional sound glitches, similar to the PS Remote Play app. However, the Portal appears to be more reliable in this regard.

Across various titles, including Ratchet & Clank, Gran Turismo 7, Spider-Man 2, and Astro’s Playroom, the Portal delivers a satisfying gaming experience, surpassing the experience of using alternatives like the Backbone One controller on an iPhone. The Portal feels more balanced and comfortable to hold, and it retains all the DualSense controller’s exceptional features, including haptic feedback and adaptive triggers, which provide an unparalleled level of immersion.

Game compatibility encompasses all titles installed on the PS5, including downloaded games and the currently inserted disc. While cloud gaming is currently unavailable through Remote Play, it might become a future feature, allowing PS Plus Premium subscribers to stream games directly to the Portal without downloading them.

Despite requiring an active PS5, the Portal serves as a convenient alternative for playing games in different rooms or multitasking in front of the TV. It’s important to note that the Portal is not a standalone console; it streams games from the PS5 in up to 60 FPS. Additionally, it cannot be used as a second controller for the PS5. Think of it as a portable second monitor for your PS5 setup.

The Portal lacks a physical touchpad like the DualSense controller, but a virtual touchpad is integrated into the screen. To interact with supported games, simply tap the screen to activate the two touchpad buttons.

Overall, the PlayStation Portal excels as a portable extension of the PS5 experience, providing a seamless remote gaming solution with impressive performance and familiar DualSense controller features.

PlayStation Portal: Ergonomics and Comfort

The PlayStation Portal’s ergonomic design deserves recognition. Unlike many handheld consoles that cause hand cramps after prolonged use, the Portal’s form factor closely resembles the DualSense controller, ensuring exceptional comfort during extended gaming sessions. The weight distribution feels balanced, and the familiar controller layout makes it easy to grasp and maneuver. While one-handed use is technically possible, the device’s weight and the presence of a ledge on the back encourage a two-handed grip to prevent accidental drops.

PlayStation Portal: Latency and Response

The PlayStation Portal’s latency and response time are surprisingly impressive, especially considering the nature of remote gaming. With a strong Wi-Fi connection, navigating the dashboard and playing most games feels responsive, with only a fraction of a second delay compared to playing on the TV.

To test the exact delay, we played Gran Turismo 7 with the timer displayed on screen. While the difference is barely noticeable in real-time, pausing the footage reveals a slight delay. This delay is minimal for most games, but it can become more noticeable in fast-paced titles like Call of Duty, where split-second reactions are crucial.

For games that don’t require lightning-fast reflexes, the PlayStation Portal delivers a satisfactory remote gaming experience. However, for highly competitive titles where every millisecond counts, the lag might be a deal-breaker.

PlayStation Portal: Remote Play Outside the Home

While the PlayStation Portal is primarily designed for home use, it also supports remote play anywhere with an internet connection. This means you can continue your PS5 gaming sessions while traveling, using your mobile hotspot, or accessing public Wi-Fi.

PlayStation recommends a minimum internet speed of 5 Mbps for remote play, but 15 Mbps is the recommended speed for an optimal experience. Our testing with a mobile hotspot yielded an upload speed of 15 Mbps and a download speed of 3 Mbps, which proved sufficient for remote play.

Initial connection attempts using the mobile hotspot occasionally failed due to signal strength fluctuations. However, once connected, the gaming experience was smooth and enjoyable. For a consistently enjoyable remote play experience, a minimum of 15 Mbps internet speed is recommended.

PlayStation Portal: Remote Power On and Off

The PlayStation Portal can conveniently turn on your PS5 remotely, provided it’s either on or in rest mode. Simply power on the Portal and press the PlayStation button to log in. If your PS5 is already on, the connection will be established within seconds. If it’s in rest mode, it will wake up within a minute. However, if your PS5 is completely off, the Portal cannot power it on.

Upon finishing your gaming session, you can either turn off the Portal, turn off the PS5, or disconnect from the PS5 through the settings menu. The latter option is recommended as it allows you to decide whether to put your PS5 into rest mode. Turning off the Portal without properly exiting the PS5 will leave the console powered on until it naturally enters rest mode.

PlayStation Portal: Heat and Fan Noise

The PlayStation Portal generates minimal heat and produces no noticeable fan noise. The device may feel warm to the touch, but it remains within acceptable limits. This is unsurprising considering that the PS5 handles the actual processing, eliminating the need for a noisy fan within the Portal.

PlayStation Portal: Media Apps Compatibility

Unfortunately, media apps like Netflix, YouTube, and the new Sony Bravia Core picture app are currently not compatible with the PlayStation Portal. Remote Play on the PS5 doesn’t support streaming media apps to another screen. Hopefully, a future update will address this limitation, allowing users to enjoy media consumption on the Portal. While this restriction may not be a deal-breaker for everyone, it’s a missed opportunity to enhance the Portal’s versatility.

PlayStation Portal: Battery Life

Based on our four days of usage, the PlayStation Portal can comfortably last between 6 to 8 hours on a single charge. We’ve played for about 5 to 6 hours per day, and the battery indicator still shows one bar out of three remaining. This suggests that an additional two to three hours of gameplay might be possible before requiring another charge. 

While a percentage-based battery indicator would be more precise, the current bar system provides a general sense of battery life.

PlayStation Portal: User Interface and Settings

The PlayStation Portal lacks a dedicated dashboard or operating system. Upon powering it on, you’re greeted with the PlayStation logo. The top bar displays the Wi-Fi icon, remaining battery life, and a settings button. Pressing the settings button opens a quick menu with options to disconnect or connect to a PS5, link a PS5 headset, adjust brightness, and enable AirPlay mode.

The full settings menu provides access to network settings, device information, software updates, reset options, language settings, date and time settings, and power saving modes. Power saving mode can be set to turn off the Portal after one minute of inactivity when not connected to a PS5.

If you own multiple PS5s, you can switch between them by opening the quick menu and tapping the PS5 button. This will display a list of available PS5s to connect to.

PlayStation Portal: Audio

The PlayStation Portal features two upward-firing speakers that deliver surprisingly good audio for a handheld device. In a quiet environment, the audio quality is adequate. For a more immersive experience, using headphones or earbuds is recommended.

Unfortunately, Bluetooth headphones are not compatible with the PlayStation Portal. Instead, it utilizes a proprietary PlayStation Link protocol that currently only works with the upcoming Pulse Explorer earbuds and the Pulse Elite headset. These headsets would require an additional purchase of £130 to £200.

Alternatively, a wired headset can be connected via the 3.5mm headphone jack located behind the screen. This is a more versatile option, as it allows you to use your existing wired headphones or earbuds.

PlayStation Portal vs. Alternatives

The PlayStation Portal stands out from alternatives like the Backbone One controller, which transforms your phone into a mobile gaming device. While the Backbone One is significantly cheaper and you always have your phone with you, the Portal offers a far superior gaming experience. Its larger screen, superior controls, and comfortable grip make it a more enjoyable choice.

Comparing the Portal to other consoles like the Switch, Logitech G Cloud, ROG Phone Ally, and Steam Deck reveals distinct differences. The Portal is specifically designed for remote PS5 gaming, while the others are versatile consoles capable of running various games and applications. Additionally, the Portal is more affordable than these alternatives.

Ultimately, the PlayStation Portal caters to a specific niche: PS5 enthusiasts who seek an enhanced remote gaming experience. Its portability, ease of use, and exceptional performance make it a compelling option for those seeking to extend their PS5 gaming beyond the living room.

PlayStation Portal: Worth Buying?

The PlayStation Portal’s value proposition can be divided into two questions: do you need one, and is it worth the £200 price tag?

Value for Money

Considering the £100 price of the Backbone One controller, a mere adapter for your phone, the PlayStation Portal’s £200 price tag is justified. The Portal offers a larger dedicated screen, DualSense controller capabilities, and the potential for cloud streaming in the future.

NEED

The Portal’s usefulness depends on the value you place on remote PS5 gaming. It’s ideal for parents wanting to play while their kids occupy the TV or gamers seeking a break from their setup. The Portal’s portability allows for gaming in various rooms or even outdoors.

Overall Verdict

The PlayStation Portal excels as a dedicated PS5 remote play device. Its larger screen, comfortable controls, and cloud streaming potential make it a compelling option for those seeking to expand their PS5 gaming beyond the living room. However, it’s important to recognize that it’s not a handheld console; it’s specifically designed for remote PS5 gaming. If you value the ability to play your PS5 away from your TV and appreciate the Portal’s strengths, then it’s a worthwhile investment.

Final Conclusion

The PlayStation Portal is an excellent choice for gamers who want to take their PS5 experience on the go. It boasts a stunning display, comfortable controls, and all the features you need to enjoy your favorite titles away from home. While its battery life could be better and it lacks some of the PS5’s native features, the Portal is still a worthwhile investment for anyone who wants to enjoy their PlayStation library anywhere.

FAQs

The PlayStation Portal is a portable gaming device that allows you to play your PS5 games away from your TV. It connects to your PS5 remotely and streams your games to the Portal’s 7-inch touchscreen.

The PlayStation Portal battery lasts for about 6 to 8 hours on a single charge.

Yes, you can use wired headphones with the PlayStation Portal. It has a 3.5mm headphone jack located behind the screen. However, Bluetooth headphones are not compatible with the Portal.

No, you cannot currently use the PlayStation Portal to stream games from the cloud. However, cloud streaming may be added as a feature in the future.

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