The Concept and Design
Let’s dive into the world of Sony’s latest gaming innovation, the PlayStation Portal. Priced at £199.99 in the UK, it’s Sony’s new entrant into the portable gaming market, aiming to provide a streaming-only experience for PS5 games. The concept is ambitious, allowing you to stream games directly from your PS5 using Wi-Fi. But does it live up to expectations?
Initial impressions of the PlayStation Portal’s design are mixed. Its form factor, resembling a DualSense controller with an 8-inch screen sandwiched in between, initially seemed a bit unorthodox. However, upon further exploration, it’s clear that Sony has nailed the ergonomics. The device is comfortable to hold for extended periods, and the accessibility of every button, regardless of your playing position, is commendable. The 8” LCD screen, while not as vibrant as some competitors, provides a decent display quality.
Performance and Usability
Performance-wise, the Portal is a mixed bag. Its Qualcomm 662 chip is modest compared to today’s smartphone standards, yet it handles 1080p, 60fps gameplay efficiently. The inclusion of DualSense features like haptic feedback and adaptive triggers is a significant plus, offering an immersive gaming experience.
However, the PlayStation Portal’s reliance on a stable Wi-Fi connection is its Achilles’ heel. The absence of native game running capability renders it practically useless offline. While some games run smoothly, others, like Spider-Man: Miles Morales, suffer from lag issues, irrespective of whether the PS5 is tethered or connected wirelessly.
The device’s lack of Bluetooth support for audio is another drawback. While it does have commendable on-device speakers, the need to buy proprietary Sony wireless audio products if you want wireless sound feels like a step backward in today’s Bluetooth-dominated world.
Real-world usage of the PlayStation Portal is a rollercoaster. At times, games like Spider-Man 2 run seamlessly, offering an enjoyable, albeit not outstanding, gaming experience. Battery life, lasting between seven to eight hours, is a positive aspect, albeit expected given its streaming-only nature. But the device’s inconsistent performance across different environments, coupled with the sometimes frustratingly long connection times to the PS5, dampens the overall experience.
In conclusion, the PlayStation Portal is a device with a narrow appeal. While it has its moments of brilliance, particularly in its ergonomic design and when the streaming connection is stable, its limitations are hard to overlook. Its dependence on a strong and stable internet connection, the lack of offline playability, and issues with certain games’ performance make it a challenging sell, especially at its price point.
The PlayStation Portal scores a 4/10. It’s a device with potential, yet it feels like a niche product that doesn’t quite fit into the current portable gaming landscape. Its unique features may appeal to a select group of PlayStation enthusiasts, but for the average gamer, there are more versatile and reliable options available.
What are your thoughts on the PlayStation Portal? Have you had a different experience with it? Share your views and join the discussion in the comments!