PlayStation Portal Review – A Portal To Perfect Portable Play​

PlayStation Portal Review - A Portal To Perfect Portable Play

Those who’ve been able to withstand my constant ranting in recent years would know of my love of remote play. Via the PS5 I’ve tried remote play from my PS5 to my phone, PC, I’ve used the Backbone, and streamed from my PS5 at home, to accommodations hundreds of kilometers away and my phone via 4G and 5G in all kinds of places. In every single use case, despite my home wi-fi being hot trash, has been a wonderful, lag-free experience. The biggest problem I’ve had when streaming to a phone has been the inability to use any other function of my phone without interrupting both my gameplay, but also the connection to the PS5 console; no longer though – The PlayStation Portal is here, a dedicated device designed to connect directly to the console, with no other tethers. The PlayStation Portal is a must for anyone wanting to engage with their PS5 wherever they may go.

Many have described the Portal as a Dualsense controller, cut in half with Xperia tablet slapped in the middle. Now while the description is pretty solid, it doesn’t do justice to the value of this platform. An 8-inch display, with a headphone jack, Bluetooth via PlayStation Link, USB-C charging, a 60Hz LCD, wi-fi to establish a link to your console, and full Dualsense functionality; the Portal is packing everything players need to maximize their playing time. Convenience is at the centre of the design of the Portal, and it is certainly a most convenient platform to toy with, but the level of convenience is likely to vary upon your home circumstances.

Many of you reading this will have had to share your bandwidth with others in a household and of course there’s a chance that you’ve experienced hiccups to your own enjoyment of a show/film or other due to the actions of others under the same roof – this same obstacle can be more impactful than any video buffering because the game won’t stop for your momentary absence, leading to some potentially crushing moments. The thing that must be emphasised above all others if you’re considering a PlayStation Portal is this – if your internet can be fickle, or if it’s in high demand, then think deeply before picking up the Portal – it may be useful only when others have dispersed or when usage around the home is low. For my use case, despite having pretty rubbish internet (soon to be upgraded to FTTP if NBNCo can ever sort themselves out), my 22/11mbps connection (at its best) handles the needs of the Portal as well as my wife streaming her new favourite show on Netflix/Stan with ease. No latency, no dips and drops, no worries. Your best experience will come if you’re able to connect your PS5 directly to an ethernet connection, but the wi-fi experience has been seamless over many hours with the platform so far.

PlayStation Portal

Where mileage won’t vary a lot is in the platform’s battery life. As the Portal isn’t natively running the games, there won’t be variances in the battery life dependent upon what game you’re playing, something that is often prefaced with the SteamDeck or Nintendo Switch. Each full charge should offer the player approximately 8 hours of game time, but given the Portal is a tool to help you remain connected while on the go, or when the TV is being used by someone else, 8 hours is more than enough. 

The platform isn’t without negatives. With Bluetooth connection to audio devices only being possible via the PlayStation Link, Sony have caught players in a trap that forces them to go wired, via the 3.5mm jack, or invest in PlayStation-branded peripherals, from the Pulse Earbuds to the upcoming Pulse Elite headset. Brightness settings aren’t automated, and while it’s a quick fix, it’s a bother that the platform cannot recognise the needs of the player itself.

The other potential negative is around the necessity of the platform. For people such as myself, who are looking to create the separation, who are infuriated by a text message or (god forbid) a phone call interrupting their game time, the Portal is the perfect platform to ensure that the gaming experience is never impeded. For others, where these concerns are less relevant, the need for a Portal becomes less as well, but those gamers will be missing out on an incredibly high quality product in making that choice. 

For anyone looking for the full, unaffected, PS5 experience on the go, the only way you can get that is by using a PlayStation Portal. PlayStation have developed an incredible piece of technology that performs its desired fuction incredibly well, and may hopefully win a few people over to the wonderful world of remote play as well. At $330 it’s not a small outlay of funds, but if you’re willing to make it, and remote play is your thing, this connoisseur of all things remote play stresses that you’ll not be going wrong. 

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