1. What exactly is the device?
Sony first teased the project in May of this year, under the code name “Project Q.” On August 23, 2023, it was officially revealed that the new device would be named the PlayStation Portal, a name that rings eerily similar to its 2005 PSP.
Sony describes the product as a “device dedicated to delivering an incredible remote play experience,” and that’s basically all it is: a “remote play” device for your PlayStation 5. Without a PS5 and functional Internet, you won’t be able to use the Portal.
Unlike the Nintendo Switch and Valve’s Steam Deck, the Portal is not a standalone console system but instead an accessory. It has no internal storage, and it can’t do anything when it’s not connected to a home device. This means you MUST own a PS5 in order to even use the Portal in the first place.
In terms of design, the Portal device is essentially a DualSense controller that’s been cut in half with an 8-inch LCD screen propped in the middle. It features all the same functionality as the DualSense controller, too, such as the haptic feedback and adaptive triggers. The only noticeable difference is with the analog stick pads, which are smaller and actually lifted from the PSVR2’s controllers.
Alongside the Portal, Sony is also releasing its new wireless connectivity feature called PlayStation Link, with two new headset devices: the PULSE Elite wireless headset and the PULSE Explore wireless earbuds. These products, though, are set to release in later months and are not yet available for pre-order.
2. What are the positives—and the negatives?
The Portal is definitely a unique product, one that’s confused consumers who might be dabbling in the mobile gaming market. So what exactly are the positives? Let’s break it down.
The biggest selling point of the PlayStation Portal is, of course, its remote play ability. There are tons of uses for mobile gamers. If you enjoy the flexibility of playing games in bed or on the couch, or if someone is using your TV when you want to game, then the Portal device offers gamers a top-of-the-line accessory to continue playing.
But it isn’t limited to just home connectivity. If you’re traveling—say, to a friend’s house or even halfway across the world—you can still have the option to play your PS5 games, provided you have a stable Internet connection. Sony requires your Wi-Fi to have at least 5 Mbps connection to use and recommends a minimum of 15 Mbps for the best experience.
The battery life is also not a major concern, as Sony says it’s essentially the same as their DualSense controllers, which can range from as low as four to five hours in games that use all the features—or potentially as long as 12 hours if you decide to turn those features off.
But what about the negatives? Let’s explore.
Unlike the PSP or Nintendo Switch, which can play games natively on the device, the PlayStation Portal is only intended to stream games from your main console to the screen via Wi-Fi. This means if you don’t have the game installed already on your console, you won’t be able to play it.
The PlayStation Portal also has no Bluetooth functionality, which means you will need to purchase one of Sony’s new headphones, the Pulse Elite or the Pulse Explore, for wireless options. But the device does feature a 3.5 mm headphone jack, so users who still have wired headphones are able to plug that in for use.
Another feature some gamers are upset with is the fact that the Portal uses an LCD screen as opposed to an OLED panel, which is used on the Nintendo Switch and even the PS Vita. As gamers have been spoiled in recent years by the bright, rich colors and deep blacks, it was strange for many to see Sony drop the product with the LCD screen.
Furthermore, if remote play is something you want to do but you don’t have any interest in shelling out $200 for the device, you’re in luck. Sony already allows users the ability to stream games to other devices (like your phone, tablet, or computer) through its Remote Play feature. So play away, mobile gamers.
3. How much will it cost?
Sony is launching the product for retail at $199.99, a price that’s right on the cusp of being somewhat expensive yet not completely unattainable for many consumers. Don’t expect any Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals either, as it’s a first-gen product launching around the holiday season.
The Pulse Explore wireless earbuds are also dropping at the price of $199.99, the same price as the Portal, and the Pulse Elite wireless headset will sell for the price of $149.99.
4. When is it launching?
The PlayStation Portal is set to be released on Nov. 15, 2023, in the U.S., United Kingdom, France, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Luxembourg, Canada, and Japan.
Both of the headphones are dropping at later dates, with the Pulse Explore wireless earbuds set to arrive on Dec. 15 of this year, and the Pulse Elite wireless headset dropping on Feb. 21, 2024.