Why I bought the PlayStation Portal even though it's not the Sony PS5 portable I desire
The PlayStation Portal remote player has some redeeming qualities for me since I'd like to game without my sometimes-occupied television
Updated news: The need for our PlayStation Portal restock reporting suggests that there’s something to Sony’s remote player for the PS5. It’s in demand in December 2023, as are the official PlayStation Earbuds no one can find in stock. We were right. Good news: PlayStation Portal may be in restock this week.
The PlayStation Portal release date is November 15, 2023, according to the Sony PlayStation Direct listing that opened up after pre-orders went live on August 31. I’ll be among the first to have the WiFi-required PS5 remote player as I want to use it as a “second screen” device.
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The PlayStation Portal has been met with tremendous criticism from the gaming community, and rightly so. Everyone was hoping for a true “PSP,” or PlayStation Portable. But the PlayStation Portal is a few letters off and a departure from what we’ve come to expect – it still costs $200, too. The PlayStation Portal price is rather high when the handheld is essentially a DualSense controller with a screen slapped in the middle. And you can get a similar experience with a Backbone One PlayStation Edition controller for iPhone or Android for $99.
But I’m still buying it for the three reasons outlined below, despite the criticism. It’s another way to access the best PS5 games and get the benefits of a DualSense controller when the TV is pre-occupied.
Why I still ordered the PlayStation Portal
📺 1. Second screen technology
I love the idea of the “second screen,” meaning when someone else is watching Netflix on the television, I can still play games on another screen – and this one happens to work in any room in the house. When the new Spider-Man 2 PS5 game releases on October 20, 2023, I won’t have to share a 4K TV with someone to play it. I can hear Uncle Ben now: “With a great powerful PS5 game, comes great responsibility to complete it.”
⚡ 2. Eco-friendly
This may sound odd, but I suspect there will be cost savings to not flipping on my Samsung 4K TV every time I want to play a PlayStation 5 game. Yes, the console will still have to be running, but I don’t always need a giant 65-inch TV to get the full
effect of gaming. The PlayStation Portal screen has an 8-inch LCD screen and a 1080p resolution at 60fps, so it’s significantly smaller and a lower resolution, but it’ll feel more personalized in my hands inches away from my eyes.
🌐 3. Play it anywhere
In bed? In the kitchen? On a balcony or rooftop? …In the bathroom? Yes, these are all places I’ll be testing the PlayStation Portal during my review period. As the PS5 restock expert who is always keeping tabs on PlayStation deals through my Twitter account (they sell out fast), making time for video games means being able to play in short bursts anywhere and everywhere. I’ll test out the ability to tether with a phone and use public WiFi to see if they work, but I’m also fine with using the PlayStation Portal at my desk without lugging over the giant TV.
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I understand your PlayStation Portal criticism
I see and understand the criticism in my social media comments. PlayStation Portal can’t play cloud games, which means that despite Sony’s recent PlayStation Plus price increase news, the online service won’t even extend to this remote player. It only works on fully installed games on your PS5 Disc or Digital that’s up and running (you can turn it on remotely, thankfully).
Sony’s store description implies that you’ll need home WiFi and a PS5 console to play games using the PlayStation Portal (although, according to Sony’s fine print, it may work out of the house with strong WiFi. I’ll be testing that out in my forthcoming PlayStation Portal review on The Shortcut).
The final valid criticism is the fact that you’ll need either the PlayStation Earbuds (now called the PlayStation Pulse Explore) or the PlayStation Pulse Elite wireless headset to get wireless audio. That’s another $199 or $150, respectively, adding to the price if I want to use anything but wired headphones (thankfully the PlayStation Portal specs include a 3.5mm headphone jack). But everyone wants to be able to use their AirPods or Sony WF-1000XM5 instead of having to fork over more money.
PlayStation Portal now and in the future
Sony’s PlayStation Portal solves a problem for me – I often enjoy watching video content (especially YouTube) on my laptop more than I do on my 4KTV. It feels more personal and it’s easier to sink into on a portable machine, and I’m willing to bet I’ll get the same exact feeling when testing the PlayStation Portal for the first time.
I can take my PS5 games anywhere around the house, not have to share a TV and avoid drawing a lot of power every time I want to get some gameplay time in. And the PlayStation Portal battery life is expected to be the same as a DualSense controller despite having an 8-inch screen in the middle.
That doesn’t mean we have to give up pushing Sony for a true PlayStation Portable that can install and stream PlayStation 5 games natively from the cloud. If the Asus ROG Ally and forthcoming Lenovo Legion Go can pull this off as true PC gaming handhelds, there’s no reason Sony can’t one day, too.
I saw the future of handheld gaming at Qualcomm when I tested its Snapdragon G3x Gen 2 chipset in a reference device. If Sony’s PlayStation Portal specs include the Snapdragon G1 Gen 1 (as I suspect) at $199, there’s hope that the G3x Gen 2 could find its way into a true PlayStation Portal one day soon.
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