It’s fair to say that Sony’s history when it comes to portable gaming consoles has been mixed.
On the one hand, the PlayStation Portable, or PSP, was a defining handheld of its generation. Many great RPGs, platformers, and more were released for this excellent little machine, and it more than held its own against Nintendo’s DS.
Sadly, though, the PlayStation Vita couldn’t quite sustain the following the PSP built. Perhaps it was the clunkiness of the machine itself, or maybe it was the lack of killer apps that sank the Vita.
Recently, however, Sony announced a new handheld device in the form of the PlayStation Portal, but beware: it’s not the same kind of handheld as the Vita or the PSP.
So, what is the PlayStation Portal? When can you get your hands on it, how much will it cost you, and what kind of features does it have? Read on to find out!
PlayStation Portal release date: when can you buy the device?
Let’s get the good news out of the way first: the PlayStation Portal is available to buy right now from Sony’s website, assuming you’re in the US, the UK, or a number of other select markets.
Here’s a list of the markets in which the Portal is currently available, having launched on November 15th.
You can also currently pre-order the device from other retailers in Canada and Japan. Sony says it’ll announce the release date for other regions in the near future, so keep an eye out for more info if you’re outside of these countries.
PlayStation Portal price: how much does it cost?
If you want to get your hands on the PlayStation Portal, it’ll cost you £199.99 if you buy it directly from Sony’s website.
You may be able to find the device cheaper on certain third-party retailers’ websites, of course, but it’s intended to retail at £199.99, so you should be prepared to pay around that much for it.
PlayStation Portal features: what can it do?
It’s important to get something straight here.
The PlayStation Portal is not a traditional gaming handheld. That means it’s not intended to compete with the Nintendo Switch, the Steam Deck, the ASUS ROG Ally, or any other gaming handheld device.
Instead, the Portal is a sort of extension of the PS5 that can be used to play PlayStation 5 games without disrupting anyone else in the household who wants to use the TV.
You can think of it as a similar device to the Wii U’s Gamepad; the game may be appearing on your Portal, but you’re essentially still playing a PS5 game.
This also means that you won’t be able to use the Portal if you don’t have a PS5 handy. The Portal uses the console and Wi-Fi to stream games to the device, so if you’re not connected to Wi-Fi, it won’t be accessible either.
Here’s a list of features the PlayStation Portal has!
- 8” LCD screen. Sony has boasted about the Portal’s “gorgeous” 8-inch LCD screen, which does indeed look rather nifty in screenshots and preview videos. You should be able to see your device’s screen pretty clearly when you’re using it.
- A built-in DualSense controller. If you’ve seen the Portal, you’ll already know that it’s essentially a DualSense controller split through the middle by a screen. It’s not dissimilar to the way in which Android and iOS controllers work; you can imagine the Portal as a sort of glorified phone screen with a controller attached.
- Haptic feedback and adaptive triggers. Because the Portal is essentially a DualSense, this also means that any game which supports haptic feedback and adaptive triggers on the DualSense will also support these features on the Portal. Make no mistake; you’re getting the full PlayStation 5 experience here.
- The chance to play your PlayStation library remotely. The big draw of the Portal is the ability to play your PS5 and PS4 games remotely; if you’ve got it on your PS5, then it can be played on the Portal. There are, however, some exceptions to this. Any game that requires an additional peripheral isn’t compatible with Portal, and you also can’t play games that would require streaming on PS5 via PlayStation Plus Premium. Anything else, though, is fair game.
- Support for 1080p resolution at up to 60fps. Your games should look pretty smooth on the Portal thanks to its 1080p 60fps support. If you’re wondering why higher resolutions aren’t supported, it’s likely down to the size of the screen; a 1440p screen feels unnecessary when the display is small enough that 1080p still looks extremely sharp.
PlayStation Portal reviews: what are critics saying?
In IGN’s review, writer Seth G. Macy awards the Portal an 8 out of 10 score, praising the display quality and familiar feel while also criticising the lack of Bluetooth support.
The Verge’s impressions piece calls the Portal “a little pricey” as a single-use niche-case accessory and points to other options on the market that you might already own, like third-party controllers and Remote Play.
Wired’s review gives the Portal a 7 out of 10 score, pointing to the streaming as a highlight; the publication says streaming works “remarkably well”. However, Wired also says that fast internet is required to get the most out of the Portal, and that the touchpad controls for the device are “awkward”.
For the most part, it seems critics are cautiously optimistic about the Portal, but they also acknowledge that the accessory isn’t likely to be for everyone and that if you don’t fall into its rather narrow usage niche, you don’t need to buy one.
Of course, at time of writing, that hasn’t stopped the Portal from selling out on PlayStation Direct. Hopefully, that issue will be resolved soon and we won’t have a repeat of what happened during the early days of the PlayStation 5. Only time will tell!