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“PlayStation Portal” review: “Portable PS5” and its limitations – CNET Japan


Sony is working hard to expand the PlayStation 5 (PS5) experience beyond the TV. The PlayStation Portal ($200, 29,980 yen in Japan), released November 15th, isn’t as innovative as the PlayStation VR 2 wired headset, but it’s a more pocket-friendly option. With PlayStation Portal, you can stream and play games from your PS5 even in rooms without a PS5.

PlayStation Portal
Provided by: Sean Booker/CNET

Over the past few days, I’ve had the opportunity to play PlayStation Portal. I’ve only been able to test it out for a limited time, so this is a tentative review, but at least I can say that the operability is excellent. However, streaming quality varied. There’s also no doubt that this is a strange device. Sony’s game division, which has produced many portable game consoles such as the PlayStation Vita, has released a new game that looks like a standalone portable game console, but it’s not. PlayStation Portal does not function on its own, but is a dedicated remote play device that streams games from the PS5 that users already own. Just imagine that a display has grown in the middle of the PS5 controller.

When I first took it out of the box, I thought it was an odd shape. Although it has a neat design, there’s something off about it. A flat, tablet-like display is sandwiched between a grip that looks like a game controller split in half, and the grip features Sony’s signature curves. The USB-C charging port is tucked away at the bottom of the device, as if hidden. It doesn’t seem particularly portable. It has an irregular shape and does not come with a carrying case. The grip that sticks out from the display looks like a bat-shaped boomerang from “Batman.” To begin with, this device is intended to be used at home.

Operability: Better than the smartphone controller “Backbone”

PlayStation Portal and “DualSense” controller.The size of the operating part is similar
Provided by: Scott Stein/CNET

PlayStation Portal can be said to be Sony’s version of the Wii U GamePad, which was developed by Nintendo for the Wii U home console. For those who don’t know, the Wii U GamePad was also meant for playing games in areas of your home where you didn’t have a TV. The image quality was perfect, but it didn’t work if you were too far away from the Wii U. PlayStation Portal can be played anywhere as long as you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network, but the PS Remote Play technology used to stream games can already be used on smartphones and tablets.

Backbone One and PlayStation Portal side by side

Backbone One (photo below) and PlayStation Portal
Provided by: Scott Stein/CNET

Why buy PlayStation Portal when you can already stream and play games from the PS5 console on your smartphone or tablet? There are controllers on the market, such as the “Backbone One,” that can be attached to smartphones to play games. Some people may think that if this is combined with PS Remote Play, it will become a portable game console for PS5. After actually using both, there is one thing that is clearly different. Compared to Backbone One, PlayStation Portal’s controls are far superior.

It’s this operational feel that makes PlayStation Portal so enjoyable. The grip, buttons, and sticks are all replicas of the original PS5 wireless controller “DualSense.” It supports haptic feedback, allowing you to experience a variety of strengths and tensions through the trigger. These features make a huge difference to my gaming experience, and are the reason my teenage son doesn’t want to play games on a device like the Backbone One. Most handheld game consoles can’t recreate the same feel as a standard console controller. However, PlayStation Portal is different.

Please note that the haptic feedback is different from the regular DualSense controller. The motor sound can be noisy at times, and in the games I played, the feel in the hand was less delicate than the DualSense. Still, this is the first time I’ve felt haptic feedback on a streaming portable game console.

Streaming quality: may be degraded

Screen when connecting PlayStation Portal

Connecting to PlayStation Portal is easy
Provided by: Scott Stein/CNET

From what I’ve tried so far, PlayStation Portal has some issues. First of all, you won’t be able to experience the same slimy movement that you get when playing on the PS5 console. Streaming frame rates, smoothness, and overall gameplay quality varied considerably. Of course, it’s not at a level where you can’t play it, and the author used it on a pre-release device. It is possible that the software will be improved in the future. However, from past experience, streaming quality has been inconsistent.

The first game I played was the sports game Madden NFL 24. I tried playing on the floor two floors below the room where my PS5 was. For some reason, there are no other portable game consoles that can play Madden NFL 24 (Nintendo Switch and Steam Deck are not supported). I played the Sunday night game between the New York Jets and the Las Vegas Raiders, and was impressed by the vibrations that returned to my hands every time I made a tackle or ran. The display is an LCD screen with a resolution of 1080p, but it looked clear. The screen size is 8 inches, so you can read text fairly well. When playing games for home consoles or PCs on portable game consoles like Steam Deck, the problem often arises that the text is too small to read. After a while of streaming, I was able to enjoy clear and vivid images. However, there were variations in the frame rate, and there were times when the image suddenly became distorted during play, causing a tackle to fail.

How to play

I think I’ll mainly be playing “Madden NFL 24” on PlayStation Portal.
Provided by: Scott Stein/CNET

Gran Turismo 7 and WipeOut Omega Collection were particularly easy to play on PlayStation Portal (the kids took turns playing them with great enthusiasm). However, for Gran Turismo 7, it was necessary to disable steering operations using the controller’s motion sensor. The motion sensor operation seems to have too much lag. The frame rate was kept at a comfortable level, but I felt that the timing was more accurate when playing on the PS5 console.

The author's child playing

The author’s child playing “Gran Turismo 7”
Provided by: Scott Stein/CNET

Audio: Not many choices

The built-in speakers aren’t bad, but if you want to use headphones, you can plug a wired type into the 3.5mm jack, or connect Sony’s PULSE Explore Wireless Earphones or PULSE Elite Wireless Headset to the PS5 using a USB adapter. , you have no choice but to connect it to PlayStation Portal. I’m disappointed that it doesn’t support Bluetooth.

For this review, I used PULSE Explore, which was sent along with PlayStation Portal. PULSE Explore is a wireless earphone that will be released in December for $200 (29,980 yen in Japan). The size is quite large. You also have to consume one of the PS5’s USB ports to stream audio to PlayStation Portal. Although I haven’t tried it yet, I hear that it can also be used as a general Bluetooth earphone. I could use it on PlayStation Portal without any problems, and the sound quality was not bad, but since I usually use AirPods Pro, I didn’t feel it was particularly good.

Packing box for PlayStation Portal and PULSE Explore

Provided by: Scott Stein/CNET

Setup: Easy, but there are some concerns

Setting up PlayStation Portal is simple. There is no need to connect it to the PS5 for pairing. In my case, all I had to do was log in to the PlayStation mobile app using the QR code, find my local PS5, and connect. There are menus to adjust brightness and connections, but they can only do the bare minimum.

Animation when connecting

Animation when connecting
Provided by: Scott Stein/CNET

What I was concerned about – and what I felt was the biggest problem in terms of operation – was the reproducibility of the touchpad installed in the DualSense controller. PlayStation Portal does not have a touchpad, so a touchscreen is provided instead. However, it is difficult to understand how to use it. The PlayStation Portal display has a touch-sensitive rectangular area that lights up as a landmark, but I’ve never had success with it. Should I tap it? I couldn’t call a quick timeout while playing Madden NFL 24 because I didn’t know how. You may need to be careful when playing PS5 titles that make heavy use of touchpad functions on PlayStation Portal.

Conclusion: Should you buy PlayStation Portal?

At this point, no clear conclusions can be drawn. Considering that the Backbone One costs about $100 (JPY 19,800 in Japan) and the PS5 controller costs about $60 (starting from JPY 9,480 in Japan), the PlayStation Portal with display costs $200. , doesn’t seem that outrageous. On the other hand, PlayStation Portal is not absolutely necessary and is quite niche. To put it bluntly, it’s just a device with a dedicated controller attached to a remote play display that can stream games, and its uses are extremely limited. It’s easy to use, but the streaming feature makes it slower than a handheld game console like the Steam Deck or, in some cases, the Nintendo Switch, at least on my old home network.

If you already own a PS5 and wanted a good handheld device for remote play, this might be a reasonable purchase if it fits your budget. Still, it feels more like an experimental product than a fully optimized product.

This article was originally published by Red Ventures overseas and edited for Japan by Asahi Interactive.

Tags: PlayStation Portal review Portable PS5 limitations CNET Japan


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