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Hands-on review: PlayStation Portal
Wed, 24th Jan 2024

Sony has only released two dedicated handheld consoles over its 30 years of making PlayStation devices. These consoles were the popular PSP and the underrated PS Vita device. While we sadly won’t be receiving a third dedicated handheld console, Sony has released a new remote-play device called the PlayStation Portal this year.

For any parents out there who want to buy the PlayStation Portal for their kids, you have to know that you cannot play any games out of the box. In order to play games on the PlayStation Portal, you need both a PS5 console with games as well as a high-speed internet connection. Without these things, the PlayStation Portal cannot play any games on its own. 

Since it’s only a remote-play device, the PlayStation Portal is slightly cheaper to buy than a Steam Deck or even a Nintendo Switch. The PlayStation Portal is released in New Zealand on February 1st, 2024 for a retail price of $379.99 at most electronic stores. 

In order to pair up the PlayStation Portal with your PS5, you will need to use the same PSN account as well as a fibre internet connection, preferably. I remember playing PS4 remote play using my PS Vita and an ADSL internet connection ten years ago, but the stream was slow and laggy at times…

Another thing you need to know is that you need to be close to your router if you want to play games on the PlayStation Portal. I played the PlayStation Portal in a room that’s far away from my router, and the stream dropped almost immediately. If you want to play the PlayStation Portal outside your house, a stable and fast internet connection is advised for the best results. 

Unlike the PS Vita, the PlayStation Portal is a bigger and much fancier device for remote play purposes. One of the Portal’s best features is that it features everything that a DualSense controller has. The controller parts on the PlayStation Portal are the same size as a DualSense, and it features everything you need to play most PS5 games that aren’t PSVR2 video games. 

The PlayStation Portal also has a much bigger screen than the old PS Vita console. The Portal has a beautiful 8-inch LCD screen that can play games at full 1080p and at 60fps. While it may not feature an OLED screen like the PS Vita, the colours are super bright, and games like Tekken 8 and Final Fantasy XVI still looked super gorgeous on the PS Portal. 

One thing some people might also not know about the PlayStation Portal is that you can actually use it as a second controller alternative for multiplayer games. I was using the PS Portal as player one while my brother used a normal DualSense to be player two while we were playing Tekken 8. If my dad was using our TV, we could continue playing Tekken 8 using the PS Portal’s screen instead!

In terms of sound, the PS Portal has two speakers on top of the device, or you can plug in any wired headphones for the best results. The device also comes shipped with a USB Type-C cable that can easily be charged using your PS5 console. If the device isn’t connected, the battery life for the PS Portal is around 4.5 hours on its own. 

While the PS Portal was a great device to use when I was at home lying in bed, there are a few things that are sadly missing. The next part of my review will discuss some of the flaws I found while using the PS Portal for over a week. 

The first thing that the PS Portal doesn’t have is old-school paper instructions. When I first opened the box, I did not know where the power button was! I’m not as old as my brother, but I remember every device coming with paper manuals and instructions. Now you just have to look online for instructions…

Another thing that is missing is that the PS Portal does not have Bluetooth functionality. Bluetooth headphones are common these days because many flagship phones don’t include headphone jacks anymore. The PS Portal is the opposite because it includes a headphone jack, but no Bluetooth capability. 

If you are thinking of buying the PS Portal, you will also have to know that it can ONLY play video games using your PS5 console. For some sad and strange reason, you cannot use any of the PS5’s media apps on it. I wanted to watch YouTube, Disney+, and WWE Network content on the PS Portal, but everything is disabled! This is odd, considering you can watch YouTube on the PS Vita, which is a device that’s over a decade old. 

Lastly, lag is also an issue if you have internet problems for whatever reason. I have a high-speed internet connection, but even I experienced some input lag while playing a fast-paced video game like Tekken 8. I even lost connection during an important boss fight during Final Fantasy XVI! Your experience may differ from mine depending on the time of day you’re playing and what type of internet connection you have. 

Overall, the PlayStation Portal is still an excellent remote-play device for those who already own a PS5 console. The remote-play experience is more satisfying compared to using the PS Vita thanks to its comfortable controls and a large and beautiful 8-inch LCD screen. That being said, I don’t think it’s a must-have device because it’s not a unit you can take anywhere because an internet connection and PS5 are needed to play it.