At a glanceExpert’s Rating
ProsComfortable in the handsNice, sharp screenImpressive gaming experienceConsNoticeable lagRequires strong Wi-Fi connectionNo Wi-Fi 6 supportOur Verdict
The PlayStation Portal is an unnecessary PS5 accessory, but one you won’t want to be without once you buy it. With a good 8-inch 1080p screen and built-in control, it’s the best possible way to use Remote Play. Fast and precision-intensive titles are more difficult to play, but it’s perfect for when the TV is busy or you just want to stay in bed a bit longer.
Best Prices Today: PlayStation Portal Remote Player
Sony has once again dipped its toes into the portable market, but it’s not with a sequel to the sadly overlooked PlayStation Vita.
Instead, PlayStation Portal is completely dependent on a PlayStation 5 in the home. Portal is nothing more than a streaming machine for the existing Remote Play feature. But is that necessarily a bad thing?
Unexpectedly large and unexpectedly comfortable
The first thing that strikes me about the Playstation Portal is how big it is. At 30cm, it’s about 6cm wider than a Nintendo Switch, but it’s also significantly deeper because the screen is stuck between a sort of extended version of the PS5’s usual DualSense controller.
All the niceties of the controller are intact, such as the resistor in the shoulder buttons, microphone, gyro, USB-C port for charging and 3.5 mm headphone jack. The trackpad functions are available as touch on the screen. The only real difference, apart from the elongated shape, is that the joysticks are slightly smaller.
The other thing that strikes me about the PlayStation Portal is how comfortable it is. Thanks to the controller shape, it sits perfectly in my hands, and all the buttons are as easy to reach as they are comfortable to use.
At 529 grams, the Portal weighs almost twice as much as a regular Dualsense, yet it doesn’t feel heavier. Maybe even the opposite. A Nintendo Switch actually feels heavier in the hand, even though it weighs 200 grams less. Sony has really nailed the weight distribution.
In terms of design, Sony has done most things right with PlayStation Portal.
However, how well the actual gaming works is a big “it depends”. PlayStation Portal has no significant performance itself – the only thing it can do in terms of gaming is to stream the gameplay from a PlayStation 5 via your router.
Having a good internet connection is therefore a must. Having an ethernet cable connected to the PlayStation 5 console is also an advantage, but not a must. I use a three-year-old “gaming router” with Wi-Fi 6, and it performs well.
Even though I have mainly used a wireless connection between the console and the router, there have been few streaming problems. Even when I have connected remotely via my mobile phone’s 5G network, the gaming experience has been mostly problem-free.
However, if someone at home uses the router with other intensive tasks, the experience quickly breaks down, especially if patches or entire games are downloaded to the PlayStation 5. On the other hand, playing while streaming 4K movies on Netflix or music via Spotify has not affected my gaming experience on Portal significantly.
Most things work, but not everything
However, it should be said that playing on PlayStation Portal never feels as good as playing directly on the console. With the right conditions, disturbances that lead to stuttering and lower resolution are rare, but not non-existent.
However, there is always some delay in the control. It is usually not large, but noticeable. Add to this graphical artefacts and other image degradations that are difficult to get rid of completely when streaming without the possibility of buffering.
At the same time, the streaming could have been better with relatively little effort. Unfortunately, Sony skimped on support for Wi-Fi 6, even though the PlayStation 5 has it. In addition, there is no possibility of a direct connection to the console, so the data must go through a router. That’s a bad move, as it prevents the crisp screen from showing its full potential.
Despite the lack of a direct connection to the console, my gaming sessions with PlayStation Portal have been mostly painless. Among many other things, I’ve topped the podium in semi-difficult races in Gran Turismo 7, won games in NHL 24, and completed day missions in Destiny 2.
Most types of games are simply fine to play on PlayStation Portal. At the same time, it’s clear that games with calmer themes do best on the device, while competitive online games that rely on quick reflexes and button presses aren’t quite so good.
Adding without subtracting
The most remarkable thing about the Playstation Portal is that it doesn’t really do anything new or unique. It is a platform for the PlayStation 5’s Remote Play feature, a feature that can also be used on most reasonably new smartphones and tablets.
That said, the PlayStation Portal is in a different league. There’s no hassle with holders and Bluetooth connection to the controller, no slow apps, and no calls or messages at just the wrong time. The Remote Play experience is simply more enjoyable with a PlayStation Portal. The question is whether it’s £200/$200 nicer?
But if you want to be able to play when someone in the family has taken over the TV, get a top-quality gaming experience somewhere else in the house, or maybe just think it’s unnecessary to turn on a big TV for a few casual titles, the PlayStation Portal can be a perfect solution.
Product name: Playstation PortalTested: December 2023Manufacturer: SonyDisplay: 8 inch LCD, 1920 x 1080 pixels, 60 Hz, multitouchMicrophone: YesConnections: 1st USB-C, 3.5 mm headsetWireless: Wifi 5, 802.11ac, Playstation Link (audio)Other: Full Dualsense featuresBattery life: About four to six hours depending on brightness and volumeSize: Width 30 cm, height 11 cmWeight: 529 grams
This article originally appeared in Swedish on m3.se.