The PlayStation Portal, a handheld game streaming device designed to connect with PS5 consoles, has officially hit the market in the United States and other regions, with critics unleashing in-depth reviews overnight.
So far, the reception to the device appears wildly positive, with many outlets praising its versatility, comfort, and display, as well as its allowance for freedom. With a strong internet connection, Portal users can take this device anywhere, playing games on the go while wielding the power of their local PS5. While there are seemingly some caveats – like a lack of Bluetooth support – it appears there are plenty of other features to ensure the device stands out.
Here’s what the critics are saying about the PlayStation Portal.
VGC – 4 Stars
Jordan Middler of VGC called the PlayStation Portal a “slick piece of hardware” for a select audience, praising its sense of comfort, its inclusion of haptics, and its crisp screen. Middler also noted the device had very little latency thanks to a strong internet connection – although he lamented a lack of Bluetooth support, and that the device only had limited use.
“PlayStation Portal is a solution to a problem that not everyone has. The hardware is excellent, and it does exactly what it advertises, but the use cases for PlayStation Portal aren’t plentiful,” Middler said. “There will be people for whom this machine is a godsend and others who equally couldn’t find a reason to use it if they tried. The Bluetooth situation is the only real black mark against the machine, but it’s a significant one.”
IGN – 8/10
Over on IGN, critic Seth G. Macy admitted to being impressed by the PlayStation Portal, despite initial reservations. He noted the screen is fantastic and looks great, and that the controls are very familiar and functional, making gameplay a breeze. He also noted the device has a strong battery, lasting around 4.5 hours in use, much like the Nintendo Switch.
“The PlayStation Portal is the most surprising device I’ve ever come away from loving after going in loaded with skepticism. It’s such a better experience than using your phone with a slap-on controller, and it works so much better than I was anticipating,” Macy said. “I really love the freedom it gives me to play my PS5 from anywhere with decent Wi-Fi coverage, especially when the rest of my family was using the TV to (somewhat ironically) play the Switch.”
TechRadar – 5 Stars
Writing for TechRadar, reviewer Rob Dwiar gave the PlayStation Portal a full five stars, for its ergonomic design, portability, and exceptional remote play performance. Dwiar labelled the device a “tremendous success” and said that while its battery charging was slow, and its LCD screen could “show its limitations” neither of these features were enough to dampen the playing experience.
“The PlayStation Portal is a brilliant handheld gaming device. It excels in its niche, offering ergonomic design and form, a wonderfully bright screen, and a host of PS5 features as standard,” Dwiar said. “The Portal is an essential PS5 accessory for Remote Play users and for those looking to get more out of their console, and I cannot recommend it highly enough … The Portal is not pretending to be anything else apart from a quality remote-play device for your PS5, and it absolutely nails its brief.”
CNET – Unscored
CNET‘s Scott Stein labelled the Portal’s controls “excellent” – but had some trouble with its streaming quality, landing on calling the device “flat-out weird” overall. He enjoyed the familiarity of the device’s control scheme, and shared praise for the setup of the Portal, but also criticised its lack of Bluetooth support, and a rocky streaming quality that was inconsistent, based on his internet connection.
“It really is a just remote streaming screen bonded with its own controls, which means it’s super specialised. The controls show promise, but the streaming functions make this feel more throttled, at least on my older home network, than a dedicated game handheld like a Steam Deck or even a Switch,” Stein wrote. “For a PS5 owner who craves a great portable for remote play, and has the budget, this may not be a weird buy at all. Still, it feels like an experimental product versus a truly optimised one.”
Polygon – Unscored
Finally, at Polygon, reviewer Russ Frushtick shared a more critical review analysing the uses of the PlayStation Portal, and its status as a niche streaming device. While he had praise for its comfort, he criticised the device’s remote play functionality and performance, and claimed it would not be serviceable for games with precise inputs needed – “The streaming tech just can’t handle the minimal latency required to have a good time.”
“You absolutely don’t need to spend $200 to recreate the experience of the PlayStation Portal because, as I mentioned earlier, just about any device with an internet connection can be a Remote Play device,” Frushtick said. “You can connect a DualSense controller to your tablet or laptop, and boom, you have the same experience as on the Portal. It won’t be in a tight, all-in-one form factor, sure – but you’re also not paying $200 for the privilege.”
The PlayStation Portal launches in select regions from 15 November 2023. It arrives in Australia in February 2024.