Sony’s PS Portal: Hands-on review

January 31, 2024
2 mins read


Sony PS Portal

PAT PILCHER’s better half banished his PS5 fun from the TV panel. No worries, he had the new Sony PS Portal to play with!


There’s nothing quite like the surge of excitement when that new PS5 title you’ve been hanging out to play finally hits the store. Trouble is that moment often occurs when someone else is watching the telly, and you’re stuck waiting, grinding your teeth and mentally willing their show to finish as quickly as possible. This might be a first-world problem, but Sony has heard the collective groans of impatient gamers and has crafted the PlayStation Portal, a slinky handheld extension to the PS5, that’ll give you remote access to your PS5 console regardless of what others in your household are doing.

The PlayStation Portal is no shrinking violet. It’s larger and slightly heavier than the only other handheld gaming gear available, the Nintendo Switch. That said, it also feels far more solid than the Switch and is a sexy-looking gadget.

If I were to quickly describe the Portal, I’d say it was a 16:9 LCD screen with two PS5 controllers sandwiched onto both ends. That, however, really doesn’t do it justice. Its design sports the same futuristic white-on-black aesthetic as the PS5, and its smooth curved edges and almost organic design make it super comfy for extended gaming sessions. Adding to its design sexiness is a slick set of illuminated blue edges along both controllers. All told, it looks like a prop out of Star Trek Discovery.

Getting set up was a straightforward affair. I’d previously set up my PS5 to work with the PlayStation app, so adding the Portal was as easy as using the PlayStation app on my phone to scan a QR code on the Portal’s screen and selecting my wireless network. I’d also set the network to wake up on my PS5, allowing the Portal to switch on the PS5 remotely.

The Portal worked seamlessly. Because it was effectively remotely rendering my PS5’s display, it sported the same menu layout I used with my PS5. Instead of feeling like a partial replacement for my PS5, the PS Portal felt like a fully integrated extension of my console.

Its 1080p 60FPS display and superbly designed controllers made gaming on the Portal seamless. Instead of waiting for the TV to free up, I can game anywhere with my home’s Wi-Fi coverage, resulting in sweet gaming harmony!

The Portal’s controllers also deserve mention. Not only does the Portal feature the same dual shock rumbles I’d long become used to with the PS5 DualShock controllers, but the feel and layout are so like the original PS5 controllers that gaming feels seamless.

The Portal also has built-in internal speakers, and while these output surprisingly good audio that’s loud enough for people nearby (hogging the TV!) to ask me to reduce the Portal’s volume, there’s also a headphone option for more immersive and less intrusive audio.

So, what’s missing? The one feature I missed was the Dual Shock touchpad. It’s a surprising omission, given it’s used in so many games I play. This isn’t a biggie as you can tap the Portal’s screen to fire up a virtual touchpad. The only other limitation is that the Portal must be connected to the same network as your PS5 via Wi-Fi. This means that you’re effectively limited to gaming within the coverage footprint of your home’s Wi-Fi network. Hopefully, Sony will soon come up with a software update to allow the Portal to connect to a smartphone Wi-Fi hotspot for gaming away from home.

Given that most gamers will be looking at the Portal as an extra screen for when their TV is tied up, this isn’t likely to be a big deal, but I live in hope. The other limitation I found was that the Portal is for gaming only. Given the PS5’s chops as a media player, this is surprising. Again, here’s hoping future software updates address this odd omission so I can watch Netflix and listen to music.

The Portal’s battery life is good. After charging it, I typically got just over seven hours of gaming. However, its battery life was shortened when placed in standby mode. Thankfully, for gaming marathons, you can play with it plugged in.

Playing games without disrupting other household members makes the Portal a genuinely useful addition to the PS5 ecosystem. Considering it can be pre-ordered for a reasonable $379, the Portal is also good value for money. The PlayStation Portal launches in New Zealand on February 2.

Pat has been talking about tech on TV, radio and print for over 20 years, having served time as a TV tech guy and currently penning reviews for Witchdoctor. He loves nothing more than rolling his sleeves up and playing with shiny gadgets.

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