PlayStation Portal, first impressions: limited possibilities

Tom Henry

playstation portal, first impressions: limited possibilities

PlayStation Portal was presented by surprise. Sony’s new accessory came to reimagine a Vita adapted to the new times, but after the initial confusion, we all realized that It wasn’t a standalone console.. It is, as we said at the beginning, a PlayStation 5 accessory that allows you to play the games that we have installed on the console remotely.

We have been testing Portal with early access, and the truth is that the sensations it leaves us are a bit halfway between the possibilities that, on paper, this device could develop. First of all, it is not a console. It is a remote screen to connect to your PS5 within the same local network without taking up the TV, or do it outside the home as long as you have a good network connection available. The term remote display already tells us most of the things you need to know about PlayStation Portal: your PS5 has to be on, since it is the one that runs the games and transmits the stream to Portal. In fact, if you use Portal with your TV on, you will see PlayStation Portal actions duplicated on your television or monitor.

Sony has designed Portal to allow the console to be turned on if it is remote, inside and outside your network, but it is necessary that the console is turned on. No game streaming from the cloud. The only cloud Portal connects to is your own console. This implies that the configuration of your network, and the strength of the connection, especially if you use it outside the home, represents a fundamental component of the proper functioning of PlayStation Portal.

The PlayStation Portal experience depends 100% on your internet connection

And when we say fundamental, we mean it is fundamental. Even with a 1Gb connection, Mesh network and cable-connected console, if we are downloading a game on the PS5 and running another while streaming to Portal, the connection suffers. This directly implies that games that require low latency are ruled out. Forget about playing competitively with Portal. Although it is possible, In practice it is tremendously complicated.

With this clear, Portal comes to integrate the PlayStation Remote game and the possibilities of DualSense into the same device. Sony has worked hard on this device. The configuration process is very simple: You just have to connect Portal to a Wi-Fi network, log in with your PlayStation account using the mobile app and the QR (or by entering the data manually) and activate the remote play options on the PS5. Ready. In a few minutes, depending on your connection, you will have the entire desktop of your PS5 available on the laptop, with access to almost all functions, except for profile changes and the occasional setting.

The connection between Portal and the PS5 is fast as long as your network is fast, and the truth is that with one touch, it is capable of activating the PS5 from rest, and connecting to it. Logically, within your local network it is always faster than outside the home, but the time in both cases is either minimal or not acceptable.. And ready. You will have two games available on your PS5, and you can even remotely download any purchased on your account to your console or directly purchase a new one. For physical players, yes, you will have to have the disc in your console before remotely accessing the game, since Portal It is nothing more than a mirror to your PlayStation 5 at home.

Once the connection is activated, the games run fast, and the quality is quite good for mobile gaming. This adapts to the quality of your connection, so its quality varies throughout the game session. The maximum, yes, It is 1080p and 60 FPSwhich is the maximum that the PlayStation Portal’s 8-inch screen supports.

Regarding latency, well, it is there. For single player games it is not a problem unless precision is required. For example, in games like Elden Ring it can play some tricks on you, but in general it works correctly and although it is felt and present, it is not a problem once the connection with the console is stabilized for the majority of games that They are not multiplayer. There are hardly any differences in practice between playing on the local network or playing away from home if both access points have a good upload and download speed, making it an interesting alternative for playing on fixed mobility.

Another issue is sharing the mobile connection. In this case, the streaming quality does drop enormously, even though we are using a 5G connection. The quality of the game is reduced, many artifacts appear in the video and audio, and both the latency and the “buffer” are much more noticeable than if we use a proper Wi-Fi connection. Is it unplayable? Not at all, but here the coverage or quality of the mobile network is vital. And not only to see the content on the screen well, which sometimes looks like 360p, but also so that the controls respond at a speed suitable for the game we are playing.

Logically, we will have to do more tests to know how it behaves in different environments, and above all, how its use at home affects while other devices are playing 4K content or the network is more saturated than usual. Same thing with the battery. In our first tests it performs outstandingly, but again we will have to see how it behaves in different situations, something that we will detail in our review.

An important note: PlayStation Portal does not have Bluetooth, so if you were thinking of using it with wireless headphones like AirPods, forget about it. It is only compatible with PlayStation Link headphones, such as the Explorer, which will go on sale in USA on December 6, 2023. However, it has a headphone jack, so you can use any cable model. And another one, but maybe it’s something personalthe Joysticks are smaller than those of the DualSense and, therefore, it becomes somewhat strange in muscle memory.

No cloud gaming news

Another thing to keep in mind. It doesn’t work with PlayStation Plus game streaming, something I may be able to do in the future, but at the moment it’s only for your locally installed games on the console. The reasons for these limitations are not entirely clear, but the cannibalization of products has crossed our minds. If you only want to play a streaming game, why pay 500 euros for the PS5 if you have a compact experience for half? This may be the reason why Sony does not allow Plus streaming gameplay from Portal at the moment. Or at least not without first going through a PS5.

PlayStation Portal

Feel the power of PlayStation® in your hands. Play with your PS5® console over your home Wi-Fi network with console quality controls using the PlayStation Portal™ remote player.

For now, we need a little more time with PlayStation Portal, but if you are clear that a device limited to playing your games Remotely, without looking further, and the price of 220 euros fits into your budget, it is the best product for this task. Because of its integration, because of its haptic characteristics typical of the DualSense, and because of how well it works in general terms if your connection is good. Its limitations in terms of cloud gaming are what mars the experience the most.

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