The Playstation Portal may be the most criminally underrated device on the market right now, and after a month of use, I am here to tell you the pros and cons of Sony's new streaming device. Key word, STREAMING. Before we get into the nitty gritty I want to preface with this, The portal is not a PSP equivalent. Outside of its Playstation design and software, It is NOT a standalone device and you WILL need a PS5 and a WIFI connection to be able to use this. Now, let's get into the reason I at 25 am playing video games more than I ever have.

The problem with a lot of technology these days is that it's made for everyone. When you have the world as your audience, your ability to innovate is spread thin, leaving you with products that can kinda do everything but suck in reality. The Playstation Portal is a niche device, that targets in my opinion a certain demographic and lifestyle - one that I fall into perfectly. I have a Nintendo Switch, have considered a Steam Deck, and am too annoyed to get a backbone. The switch is cool but the library is lacking, the Steam Deck has everything but also is like a full-on console, and the backbone makes my phone a video game console, but I don't want that? I want my fucking PS5 anywhere.

So what type of person would benefit from a portal? I work a 9-5 in corporate America, travel a good amount for work and personal, and love video games. Sometimes I feel as if this was made for me? It's a device for someone who simply wants to play their PS5 in places where I could use a laptop. Lemme expand on that, in the same way Reddit uses bananas for scale, I use a laptop. If I can use a laptop here, I can use my portal. So think of all the places you use one. Work, Travel, your bed, etc. You don't have to bring your PS5 in your carry-on or make the bold statement of bringing it to a shawty house hehe. It's a bridge.

Now don't get me wrong I love this thing but it does have drawbacks, let's get into that before the good. The portal is very Playstation-oriented, a company that is trying to make a tech ecosystem similar to Apple. If you have a compatible Playstation wireless headset, like the Pulse Elite or Pulse Explore, you can connect with the tap of a button, Similar to the sync button found on an Xbox. Outside of that though, and a 3.5mm headphone jack, there is no support for third-party headsets or earbuds because.... this shit doesn't have a Bluetooth chip. Not gonna lie this is absurd and a clear power move by Sony to get me to buy their tastefully designed headsets (I want one ngl) So I can't let it slide, it's pretty disappointing.

The Portal also has absolutely 0 functionality outside of being a streaming device, I already kinda knew this but it's wild when you realize this is truly just a portal into my PS5, pretty good copywriting tbh. The Portal's battery life is also not bad, but it's nothing to call home about. I found myself getting about 3-4 hours on full brightness playing Baulders Gate 3 before I had to charge, but I never really find myself needing to? Most of the time I'm near a power source, and due to the fact it can't be used completely offline, it isn't an issue. It also can’t use any of the streaming apps on your PS5, it’s all the same rules as a shareplay screen essentially.

Let's talk latency and connections. The portal is really dependent on what your wireless connection is looking like. Most of the time I have no problem streaming my games in crisp quality, often making me marvel at the fact this screen doesn't make me miss my TV too much. These types of environments include your home, work, or anywhere with a solid connection. To be truthful I haven't used it with a wifi hotspot yet So I cannot speak on that experience, But I have in places where they have free Wifi. It's sometimes a hit or miss, but 80% of the time I'm getting the experience I want. That other 20% though? Either not connecting or I’m playing a powerpoint presentation. Latency is another thing many people are scared about, and they have a right to. Mostly I have been playing single-player games on the portal, which run flawlessly, but anytime I boot up Fortnite or COD I do get a bit nervous. Is it in my head? Is it the form factor of the controller that's making me a bit slower? Or a combination of both? Either way, the more I've played, the more I've gotten comfortable with competitive gaming on the portal, with games that should be forbidden on a portal like Tekken being rather enjoyable. 

One thing about my PS5 that I haven't enjoyed is being in my room, in my bed, playing a game. Due to the fact I'm a format nerd and need my devices played on and in the highest fidelity, I have opted to park my PS5 in the living room to take advantage of my 75-inch OLED HDMI 2.1 behemoth of a Samsung TV (that I won for free, will talk about that one day). Now while it's amazing playing my favorite video games in 120fps on a TV that turns my Bushwick apartment into a small theatre, I wanna lay in my bed. What If your girl is ready to lie down and you wanna keep playing, What if you don't wanna get out of bed but I wanna play a few missions on GTA, what if you gotta go to your girl's house but you tryna still play Ballers Gate. After watching a whole season of Love is Blind in bed with your partner while playing Baulders Gate 3, you’ve realized who the Portal is for.....


PS5 for a very long time was a lot of people's partner's public enemy #1, not only taking your attention for hours on end, but also making the TV that usually is dedicated to binge-watching a 24/7 frag montage. The Wii U was honestly cooking up that concept, but the portal is the Playstation take on Nintendo's half-baked idea. I and Bookie can coexist perfectly in bed as I zone out into BG3 and RDR2 while she analyzes the complexities of arranged marriages (I have watched so many episodes of Married at First Sight).

As I have gotten older, I have noticed that society does every single thing it can do to separate you from video games. Work all day, have a side hustle, be in a relationship, work out, travel, do good things for your community, visit your family. Yea yea yea where the fuck is the "play da game" part in all of that? Gaming is the ultimate form of entertainment, yet for the most premiere experience you typically have to be sitting stationary somewhere on a PC or home console, bound to the room it's in. That's the true beauty of the portal, being able to bring the power of the PS5 damn near anywhere.

I find myself these days just playing video games more, and certain types of games are even more enjoyable on the Portal. The GTA remastered trilogy is phenomenal on this thing, with an art style that shines on the device. Graphical powerhouses like Red Dead Redemption 2 scale down wonderfully on it, and more complicated titles like Baulders Gate 3 surprisingly work well on the 8-inch LCD Screen. I’d imagine games like Persona and Final Fantasy would be perfect on this. Side note, if Xbox had a device like this with their catalog of backwards-compatible games...
Anyways, let's talk about the screen. The 8-inch LCD is capable of showcasing 60fps in 1080p depending on your connection. I think if this was OLED it would be absolutely overkill, and I was surprised based on the performance to find out it was LCD. This shit looks great, and the size of the screen immerses you into games wherever you are, without desiring more screen real estate.

So... the controller. It's one of the most polarizing things about the device, but I'm here to say... It's gas. The split controller design was extremely weird at first for me but after a couple of minutes, it felt normal. Remember what I said earlier about competitive games feeling weird? It's based on if you are looking at the screen I'm convinced. Sometime over last weekend, my PS5 controller wasn't working, so I ended up using the portal as my controller while looking at my TV. All of the things I had issues with suddenly disappeared and I realized that my performance slip-ups were due to me not being used to the perspective of looking down at a screen instead of straight ahead. I would love to see PlayStation do some Wii U/Nintendo Ds second screen compatibility with certain titles enabling the portal to be an interactive controller instead of a second display. With a dedicated map on the screen, touch screen usage, etc, the possibilities are endless.
It’s also just sexy, like props to Playstation for desigining a device that’s damn near an accessory. The controller is a full-on PS5 controller, equipped with adaptive triggers and the same quality as the 70-dollar ones we use. The LCD is also a touchscreen, making up for the lack of a touchpad on the controllers. I don't find myself using it much, only to go into the network settings or adjust brightness. On the back, there's a dedicated volume button to make sure you aren't smudging up your screen. Oh yeah, build quality is awesome, totally worth what you pay. I think one thing that’s interesting is that the analog sticks are a bit smaller, and a bit higher than the dualshock controller. It’s fine though and actually feels good! 

I think the most important thing about the Portal is its ability to give you more opportunities to play video games. I find myself anytime I have some free time just booting it up and playing anywhere from 5 minutes to 2 hours of video games. It's not a solo device, and It's not for everyone. But for only 200 dollars, this in my opinion is damn near a must-have for any PS5 owner. Like can we talk about that real quick, this is the same price as a pair of Airpods, this is cheaper than a pair of Jordan 3's, it's the same price as a Zip in an illegal state circa 2018, what I'm saying is this shit is cheap as hell for what it has brought to my life. It will never replace a switch or a PSP but it isn't seeking out to do that. If you're the target demographic, which is a person that has the obstacles of adulthood blocking them from gaming, this is for you.

I think the Playstation Portal is very madeintheurl. If you can find one, get it.

madeintheurl 2024