Sony’s perspective on handheld gaming might be somewhat surprising.
Although the PlayStation Vita didn’t attain the identical popularity as its predecessor, the PlayStation Portable, it maintained a loyal fan base eagerly anticipating a deserving successor.
This hope seemed particularly valid when the Nintendo Switch revitalized the handheld gaming market. Instead, Sony introduced the PlayStation Portal.
This portal aims to compete in the revived handheld gaming market.
However, in practical terms, it falls slightly short of matching the capabilities found in other available devices.
Rather than installing games and playing them anywhere, you can only stream games from your PlayStation 5 to the portal. You can stream content as long as there’s ample bandwidth, hinging on the strength of your home Wi-Fi or internet connectivity.
However, your console needs to be on and online to function as a server.
Priced at a mere $200, it distinguishes itself as the most economically viable handheld option available. Alternatively, one would need to commit to a console with a starting price of at least $400 for it to operate.
This prompts the query: who is its intended audience? I ponder if there’s a niche market for such a product.
Gaming, to some extent, unethical
The appeal of devices like the Switch lies in the ability to play games anywhere.
On a plane, at a rooftop party, under a basketball hoop next to a picnic table during a free throw overpass. It’s an enticing pitch, and I’ve personally used my Switch in many of these scenarios. However, I don’t spend more time at trendy rooftop parties or on planes than in my living room.
When the itch for Spider-Man 2 strikes, and I prefer not to be confined to the living room, the portal graciously provides the comfort of playing in bed.
Additionally, it proves handy for those moments when I wish to indulge in gaming in the living room while my partner enjoys a TV show. While bearing a semblance to Nintendo’s Wii U, it effectively delivers on its functionality.
Portal effectively mirrors your entire PS5 interface, streaming it like a remote PC desktop app.
Should your console be linked to the TV in use, the portal mirrors precisely the content visible on your television screen.
This means you can’t play games on the handheld while someone else uses the PlayStation to watch Netflix. It’s a bit limiting. Additionally, most media apps are blocked on the portal, so you can’t use it to watch TV either.
It only plays games, and only when you have a good internet connection. Sony recommends a minimum of 5 Mbps and ideally 15 Mbps. In my experience, you’d want more if possible.
Oddly enough, the portal can only stream the games locally installed on your PS5. The game library that you can stream to the portal screen is not the same as what you can stream to your PS5 (with a TV). Sony should allow portal to be used as another connection point for its game streaming service, but that’s not possible yet.
A controller, twinned in
One of the portal’s standout features is its unique dual-sense controller, neatly sandwiched in the middle with a screen. This means that whatever game you play on the portal was designed for the controller in your hands.
No need to remap buttons or use a trackpad to guess mouse movements, as is often the case with most Windows-based handheld gaming.
In conclusion, while Sony’s PlayStation Portal has its strengths, it also has limitations.
Determining if it aligns with your gaming habits and preferences is key to deciding if this device suits you.
Positioned within a distinctive niche, it caters specifically to a unique audience within the gaming community.
Exploring Sony’s Handheld Gaming Portal
Sony’s take on handheld gaming seems promising, with the introduction of the PlayStation Portal. However, there’s a small hiccup: the touchpad. Nestled between the regular dual-sense controllers is a clickable, swipeable touchpad.
The portal’s touchscreen suggests these features, but in a peculiar way. Tapping the screen near the control stick reveals small rectangles on both sides, acting as touchpad areas.
In games like Spider-Man 2, you can double-tap these areas or use swipe gestures as shortcuts (for example, left swipe to reach the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man app or an upward swipe to access the camera).
In my experience, these gestures were almost as quick as regular touchpads but felt a bit odd.
Screen Presentation and Battery Efficiency
The 8-inch LCD display distinguishes itself through enticing features, displaying commendable black levels and supporting 1080p Full HD video seamlessly at 60 frames per second. Considering it streams your games, you may not desire more (unless you run into bandwidth issues).
Unfortunately, there’s no Bluetooth support for headphones, but you can connect a pair using the 3.5mm jack or PlayStation link-enabled headphones.
The battery’s performance is remarkable, delivering approximately eight hours of gameplay on a complete charge. Unlike the Switch, Steam Deck, or many other gaming handhelds, you shouldn’t experience significant battery fluctuations based on the game you’re playing.
Streaming Spider-Man 2 for eight hours is no different from Heads for the same duration, giving the portal a decent battery advantage if your goal is to play AAA games (away from your TV within your home).