Friday, February 2, 2024

Playstation Portal Review - A Fun But Flawed Device



Sony just launched it's brand new remote play device, the Playstation Portal for the PS5. Remote play has been popular amongst many Playstation users over the years, from PS3 to PS Vita. Now it's the PS5's turn, as Sony try to pull a Nintendo Switch for it's latest portable device. 

Before I begin with this review, I must stress that the Wifi in my house for whatever reason is really bad, and it's been terrible for the past couple of months. We can only seem to get great Wifi in one part of the house and not anywhere else, so at the moment playing the PS Portal in my room, is sadly not an option. But that's due to the fault of our Wifi signal that we need to get repaired, and not with the device itself. 

The PS Portal is and isn't a few things. It is a remote player. It isn't a portable console. You can play games on it. You can't watch streaming shows on it. It's almost as if it's nearly but not quite amazing, and once again affected by Sony's frustrating limitations. 


                While the PS Portal has a nice screen, it only appeals to a limited amount of people.

As mentioned before previously, the internet in my house is very bad, it's been spotty like this for about half a year where there is only internet in the one part of the house, my lounge room. Even though we have 5G NBN internet for whatever god damn reason, the Wifi signal goes out the opposite way - to the back yard, and not through the front part of the house where all our rooms are. This means it significantly affects the PS Portal streaming gameplay. Sometimes in a spot with bad internet connection, gameplay would completely freeze up and PS Network actually logged me out. But when Wifi is working , it gets a really smooth connection and the image and streaming of the game is really impressive for this little device, which though only has a 1080p screen, can run really well when it does.

Setting up the Portal was a confusing and frustrating mess. You're greeted to a giant QR code on your screen. You enter your login code for PS Network on your phone. But for whatever reason it didn't acknowledge my phone set up, so I tried my computer. It didn't acknowledge my computer log in either. On the very bottom of the screen there is a very small text that says "Log in manually" so I did that and it worked after spending about half an hour frustratingly solve those annoying Sony captchas. 

When the wifi was working the PS Portal was actually playing really well. I tried Sonic Frontiers, Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart and a few other PS4 games.  


Battery Life

Battery Life is a solid 5 - 6 hours. On my first go I had used it for about 4 hours and so far nit a single sign of battery drain until the first hour or so. That is very impressive for a portable handheld even on big games such as Sonic Frontiers and Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart.


It was very confusing setting up the PS Portal for the first time. Though the internet in my house is very poor, that wasn't the cause of the PS Portal. Once I could get the online working it was actually a very smooth and stable experience. Sometimes it would drop out and didn't like to be moved around very much. I'm sure over time Sony would provide better stability through updates for the console but they probably won't.


The screen is actually really nice and good quality. It's an 8" 1080p LCD screen. It's a lot better than the Nintendo Switch which only runs at 720p undocked mostly. 


While it looks awkward the controls are actually very comfortable. It's just like a regular PS5 controller with built in haptic feedback and everything. While you are playing the PS Portal the controllers light up blue which is a nice feature if you are in a dark room and still want to see where the buttons are.


This is where I think the PS Portal falls flat. Although it's advertised as a portable player, you still need to have your PS5 connected. So if you go on holiday you will have to leave your PS5 in Rest Mode for the entire time you are away. The PS Portal can connect to any network, tethering or hotspot as long as you have a strong connection. However, if you have a lot of disc-based games, the PS Portal is not for you. How is it possible for you to change a disc of the game while you are somewhere else. I have a lot of digital games, so that is OK for me. I can swap them with ease. But for someone who is an avid physical collector and owns discs, this device is not for you. It is not a device like the Nintendo Switch where you can easily insert a cart or something.


Sadly, you can not access the "Media" option on the home menu through the PS Portal which I think is a major disappointment. It would be awesome to stream Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video etc on the go from this device. If the games run well on 1080 screen then the streaming videos should do so too. Hopefully Sony should add an update to support this feature. 


You can connect any pair of headphones to the PS Portal except no Bluetooth devices. For whatever reason Sony has been anti-Bluetooth since the PS5 launched. However, I had used my wired overhead TaoTonics with the device and the sound was fantastic.


$329 is surprisingly cheap for a Sony product in 2024, considering the PS VR 2 was a whooping $850 which was almost the same cost as the regular PS5 in itself. However you need a PS5 to run it so it isn't a standalone console. 

Final Verdict

The PS Portal is certainly not for everyone. I think it only appeals to a small variety of people. Remote Play seems to be only popular with hardcore Playstation gamers. I got it because my parents watch a lot of TV, sometimes they binge watch shows for hours and I get bored and sometimes want to play a game or if i'm playing something that is inappropriate or something not of their tastes I would play the PS Portal on that specific game. When it works it works, but I recommend connecting it to a 5G network as I ended up doing, not a 2 GHZ network. While the overall functions are good it's a shame the Streaming services seem to be blocked and that would have been a great selling point to stream shows on the PS Portal as it has a really great screen and very useful when you need it. It isn't perfect but there is certainly room for improvement.

The PS Portal is out now from all video game retailers and now available in Australia from February 2 2024. I was not provided with a review code for this review.

Pros - 

- Sharp, clear 1080p LCD screen
- Solid controls 
- You can play your PS5 while your TV is in use
- Long battery life
- Easy to handle and charge
- Play major PS5 games or PS4 titles on it with ease
- Sound both inside the console and with headphones on is fantastic

Cons -

- Relies on a strong internet connection
- Confusing set up 
- You can't use the streaming apps linked to your PS5 on the Media tab
- PS Portal only connects to the device while in rest mode
- More suitable for people who own the Digital version of the PS5

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