More than a decade has passed since Sony ventured into the realm of handheld gaming consoles. They announced a new Sony PlayStation Portal in May.
This made PlayStation Vita fans happy. They could now play their favorite games on the move.
Purpose of Sony PlayStation Portal
The Sony PlayStation Portal may seem like the Vita’s replacement, but we need to be more precise in our assumption. In reality, it serves a singular purpose—facilitating gameplay exclusively through Sony’s Remote Play feature.
That’s its sole function. Why does the Sony PlayStation Portal exist when other devices already do this task well?
Sony PS Portal Remote Play enables you to link your PlayStation 5 with a smartphone or web browser. You can play games from any device with the internet.
Sony PS station remote play features and design
The catch with Remote Play lies in grasping its constraints. To have a good gaming experience, you need to connect to the same Wi-Fi network. This is because the game relies on a solid internet connection.
Ways to deal with urgent situations exist. For example, you can access a shop in a game for a limited time. Or, you can play a less advanced strategy game from a different location. However, it is usually better to be physically nearby.
Sony crafted the Sony PlayStation Portal to enhance the Remote Play experience, aiming for maximum seamlessness. Supporting its own 1080p screen, it resembles a DualSense controller split down the middle.
Its design bears a resemblance to the Switch, albeit without detachable controller halves. Unlike the Switch, the Sony PS Portal can’t play games directly. Instead, it would help if you streamed all games over Wi-Fi using Remote Play.
Sony PlayStation portal review.
I tried out the Sony PlayStation Portal review on my PS5 in my office, using a mesh router for the internet. The console had a strong connection for multiplayer gaming.
Nonetheless, transmitting the visual signal through the mesh network posed a challenge for Remote Play. The image could have been better, and the games were unplayable because of lag and low resolution.
In my second test, I relocated my PS5 to the living room positioned right next to my router. In this setup, when firing up the Sony PlayStation Portal within the same room, the experience improved significantly. The image resolution stayed consistent at 1080p, and we noticed a noticeable reduction in input lag.
I played action-adventure games like Lies of P and Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 on the Sony PS Portal. I finished them without any problems.
For another round of testing, I jumped into Fortnite, a game known for its reliance on auto-aim features. The experience was passable, but I couldn’t ignore the subtle lag that started affecting my accuracy in aiming. Using Remote Play to win a battle royale match is highly challenging and not readily achievable, despite getting some kills.
I chose Ghost Runner 2 as the next challenge. A first-person platformer that requires precise inputs and timing, or else you’ll quickly fail.
Playing Ghost Runner 2 or any fast-paced shooter using Remote Play could have been better.
Even with the Sony PlayStation Portal and PS5 near the router, the experience was still terrible. The streaming technology couldn’t muster the minimal latency required for a satisfying gaming experience.
Comfortable gaming experience
If you don’t like fast shooters, the Sony PlayStation Portal offers many games that work well together. I experienced flawless gameplay with Elden Ring, Baldur’s Gate 3, Horizon Forbidden West, and God of War Ragnarök on this arrangement. All games ran seamlessly.
This is particularly beneficial if you have concerns about age-appropriate content for kids or if you’d rather not monopolize the main TV with lengthy sessions of a FromSoftware game. The Portal can help with these problems if your PS5 and router are close together or connected with Ethernet.
The gaming experience on the Portal is genuinely comfortable, mainly owing to the device’s well-crafted build. The Sony PlayStation Portal is easy to hold and looks good, making it great for extended gaming.
The only notable differences lie in the slightly smaller analogue sticks and the absence of a touchpad. The left and right sides of the screen cleverly manage touch inputs. Undoubtedly, it stands out as a lavish and enjoyable way to immerse yourself in Remote Play games.
Budget-Friendly Alternatives for Remote Play
But here’s the key takeaway: You don’t have to spend $200 to enjoy the Sony PS Portal experience. Almost all gadgets that can connect to the internet can operate as a Remote Play device.
Connect a DualSense controller to your tablet or laptop and enjoy the same experience for less money. Indeed, it may not feature the Portal’s sleek form factor, but it also won’t make as significant a dent in your budget.
Many Remote Play users prefer the convenience of having all their devices in one. However, they are willing to spend $200 to avoid the hassle of connecting a controller to their phone. A $15 phone grip with a DualSense controller and a smartphone can perform most of the functions of the PlayStation Portal. However, it may have a different aesthetic appeal.
Sony may be considering reentering the handheld gaming market. This is because devices like the Steam Deck OLED and Lenovo have gained popularity. Maybe the Sony PS Portal is a test for that.
Sony may create a smaller PS5 with a screen and controller and announce that it supports playing all games. But for now, saving our money might be a wise move, especially for those of us who love the Vita.