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  • Writer's pictureCourt Lalonde

Experience Gaming Like Never Before with the PlayStation Portal: A Review


The PlayStation Portal has been out for over a month and is still hard to find. When first announced, we saw many people asking who needed this or who is this handheld for. If sales so far say anything, people wanted this device, and I still see people saying they're looking for one. I couldn't get one on release day, as all the pre-orders sold out quickly. I was lucky enough to get one a couple of weeks after launch and have had to spend a lot of time with it the past couple of weeks. Many reviews I saw at the launch said this was the perfect handheld for parents who get their TV taken over by their families. As a dad, I can relate to this as I often lose out on the TV to what my daughter or wife wants to watch. In this review, I'm going to answer a couple of questions. What is the PlayStation Portal? Who is the PlayStation Portal for? How does it perform, and should you buy it?

What is the PlayStation Portal

On May 23, 2023, Sony announced the PlayStation Portal. At the time, there were rumours of a PlayStation handheld, but many of us didn't think we would see another handheld from Sony after the Vita. I liked the Vita and was sad to see it not get the support from Sony only years after its release. It had its quirks with a touchpad on the back instead of triggers, which made developers have to use the back touchpad, which always felt forced in games on the Vita. If they had triggers on the back and cloud technology was better at its release, we might have seen Vita 2. The Vita had games made for it, and you could play PS4 games via remote play, which worked very well then. The Portal has no games made for it and only allows you to play remotely from your PS5.

The PlayStation Portal has a 1080p LCD screen that looks amazing, and you would swear sometimes that it's OLED. The LCD screen is 8 inches and is touch-enabled. The specs say it's 2.6 pounds, but I never weighed it so I will take their word. The Portal feels very light in your hands and comfortable. It only has a USB-C port for charging and a 3.5mm headphone jack, but no Bluetooth. It has Wi-Fi 5 and uses PlayStation Link, meaning you must use Sony earbuds if you want sound wireless. The Pulse Explore earbuds were released after the launch but are out now. I have not picked up a pair as I find them a bit pricy, coming in at $296.96 CDN, but they are sold out everywhere. I prefer a wired connection, which means you can use any wired heat to connect to the Portal. I would love to try the new Pulse Explore earbuds, so I will not say no if anyone wants to send me a pair.

Not having Bluetooth is a choice I wish Sony didn't make. As for me, I would have loved to have one earbud in as I'm sitting in the same room trying to be somewhat present and hearing the game I'm playing, as well as my family in the room. The Pulse Explore costs more than the PlayStation Portal, which is $269.96 CDN. That puts you all in over the cost of a PS5, which I can't justify right now for wireless earbuds as a parent. Besides not having a web browser, it's my biggest gripe with the Portal. The Portal does have built-in speakers, so you don't have to use earbuds or a headset for sound. The sound coming from the internal speakers is good enough, and nothing to complain about.

The Portal uses Wi-Fi to connect to the Internet, but if the Wi-Fi you're trying to connect requires you to use a web portal to verify, you won't be able to connect. The workaround of sending the link to your chat and opening it to get a web browser won't work because your chat will be connected to your PS5 at home. This will make using the Portal at a hotel when you are not home next to impossible.

The Portal connects to your PS5, allowing you to play it remotely if you have Wi-Fi. The connection is seamless once you follow the steps to link your Portal to your PS5. You will have full access to any game on your PS5, and you can even download games to your home PS5 from outside the house using the Portal. I tested it out over the holidays, used my Portal at my parent's house using their Wi-Fi connected easily to my PS5, and could play NHL 24 with little to no lag. I had an issue connecting to the EA Network, but I don't feel that was an issue with the Portal. My home PS5 has a wired connection; from what I read, it works best if you have that. I understand that not everyone can do that, and I could not test the Portal from a non-wired connection on the home PS5.

portal NHL

If you think it looks like they put a display in the middle of the Dual Sense, you might be right because that is how it feels. The D-Pad and buttons feel precisely like they do on the Dual Sense, and the haptics feel as immersive as they do when playing on a console.

The sticks feel tremendous but are smaller than the ones you have on your Dual Sense, and I do worry about stick drift as these sticks are not replaceable like a Dual Sense Edge, and it would be pretty pricy to have to get a whole new unit. There haven't been any reports of stick drift on anyone's PlayStation Portal, so hopefully, it's not an issue in the future.

It is said that you can get 7-8 hours of battery life with the Portal, and I found it was a little over 7 hours, but if you turn off the haptics, you can hit that 8-hour with no problem. You can only charge using the USB-C cable, and hopefully, they release a charging dock for it in the future.

The share and menu buttons work just like they do with a Dual Sense on your home console, so that will feel familiar, and you won't lose out on any great clips you want to capture.

Who is it for

The most straightforward answer to who the PlayStation Portal is for is a household with only one TV; you don't always have access to it. I think, though, that the Portal can be for many people. As a parent who sometimes gets all the TV taken away from him, it is perfect to play a couple of games when I don't have access to a TV. If you travel and want to play games when you reach your destination, play on the go; you will require WI-Fi. If you like handheld gaming, this is an excellent pick-up for you, and it truly performs very well. The PlayStation Portal is the perfect companion for those with a PlayStation 5.

I want to mention I did play a couple of hours of Call of Duty on the Portal and, once again, was surprised by the little to no lag. I couldn't tell besides the smaller screen that I was playing at home. I wouldn't recommend using the Portal as you go to for playing Call of Duty multiplayer as the small screen size and something about playing it as a handheld I didn't play as well.

When playing NHL 24, quick reflexes are needed to play it, and I wasn't playing as I do when playing right on the console. It feels like the Portal would be better playing single-player games over anything that involves multiplayer or shooters. It's not that it doesn't work, but it doesn't feel the same, and if you're playing competitively, I could see how this would put you at a disadvantage.


Would I recommend the PlayStation Portal to that PlayStation gamer in your life? Yes, but I wouldn't say you need the Portal. If you want to play games on the go or cannot use the TV, it's for you, but I still wish it had some missing features. I don't regret my purchase and use the Portal each week I have had, but I know I would use it more if it had Bluetooth so I could use my earbuds. I also travel for work, so I'm a little worried I won't be able to use it on the road because most hotels make you sign into their Wi-Fi via a web portal. The tech is excellent and works much better than I expected, and it truly feels like I'm playing my PS5 anywhere I want. You won't regret it if you have disposable income and want one.

Having the Portal has made me realize how much I missed the Vita and having a PlayStation handheld. The Portal has so many pluses, but it simultaneously makes me think how much better it would be if playing PS5 games remotely wasn't its only feature. If I could download one game on here so I could play things offline with it needed to access the Internet from time to time, that would be amazing. The technology is spot on and feels like a great handheld, but many things can already do this. I recently went away for work and brought my iPad, and thanks to remote play, I could play my PS5 games from my hotel in a different country from where I live, which blew me away. I would think the Portal could do the same, but I could not try it.

The Portal serves a purpose and does that job well, so I commend it for that, but it leaves me wanting more from Sony. I know there is no Vita 2 announcement on the horizon, but I'm buying it if there is one. The Portal is the best remote player you can get for the PS5, so that is what you're looking for; I highly recommend it.


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