PlayStation Portal review: maximum price for minimum usage

Longer, bigger and uncut

Just take a look at Tumblr, Twitter (formerly X) or Instagram to realize Sony’s lasting presence in communities of “aesthetics” enthusiasts; generally post-Generation X legions who discover with astonishment the audacity of its hi-fi and video line from the 80s; of the gradual process towards the miniaturization of its Walkmans the following decade; bold curves and lines and so 2000 of its VAIO range. An alliance of technological advancement which went hand in hand with the (admittedly abstract) ever more compelling idea of lifestylewhere any device you carry must reflect a part of your personality. From the multifaceted PSP and the ambitious PS Vita (peace to his soul), the PlayStation Portal retains nothing – and even by assigning it to a different market, that of PS5 accessories, it does not even retain the audacity of the silhouette of his ancestors. It’s simple: seen from behind, the Portal looks more like a Long Chicken from Quick than a Sony product.

The advantage of such an approach (as barbaric as it may be) is infinitely superior handling compared to other peripherals on the market – provided that you are a customer of the layout specific to the DualSense. With the exception of its weight, ballasted by the screen, and its slightly smaller joysticks, it’s impossible to tell the difference blindly – even to the point that the Portal can act as an additional controller, well – which by default gives it a considerable head start over the Logitech G Cloud, to name but one. All the features specific to the PS5 controller answer the call, with adaptive triggers as required… With the exception of the touchpad, divided into two touch zones placed on top of the sides of the screen and which can be active when touched. Not really the most ideal replacement given that it requires stretching your thumbs and temporarily disrupting your balance. grip. A compromise at least worse, which ultimately proves the usefulness of the approach of third-party manufacturers of ultra-portable PCs, like Valve for its Steam Deck and its small touchpads.

A perfect transition to talk about the screen, inevitably the star of the show. Diagonal of 8 inches (20.3 cm), resolution of 1080p, nice contrast, white balance and quality colorimetry: we cannot accuse Sony of laxity on its panel – LCD, certainly, but among the top of the basket on the walk. Hence the fundamental question of having ignored OLED, technically superior in all respects to other screen technologies, notwithstanding possible chimeras of burn-in. It is still difficult to see the point of increasing the price of the bill (already steep, but each thing in its time) given the only use of the device at the moment – that of streaming gaming , irremediably plagued by fluctuations in image quality. Not really the kind of source capable of making the most of a technology particularly renowned for its deep blacks. However, we would have done without its shiny appearance for a matte finish which would attenuate the reflections of external light, which are far too visible for our taste.

Portal, not portable

Aesthetic considerations aside, Portal users will not be disorientated at the launch of the bike which uses an interface overlay in the same spirit as its partner console. THE pairing with the PS5 is done relatively quickly – after a first connection a bit long – for a restart of the game seamless pattern after resuming sleep, for example. An example of fluidity that we unfortunately do not find in game: regardless of the configuration used, it was impossible for us to enjoy a remotely solid Remote Play experience with the Portal. If the quality of the image resolution remains decent most of the time, the unwanted and too regular jerks prevented us from finishing a fight correctly in Like a Dragon Gaiden or from making a three-point string in NBA 2K24. For anyone who gives a modicum of importance to the correct timing of their command execution, the latency time is of such importance on Portal that it is impossible to recommend the device as a substitute for the native game – and this regardless whatever the configuration, both via Wi-Fi on an honest 5 GHz band and with a console connected via Ethernet.

What added value can then be found in a device which immediately excludes a good part of the PS5 game library? One could imagine that types of games that are less intense in their playability, such as turn-based role-playing games, would find new meaning in the hollow of the bed or on the seat of the toilet. But if it is infinitely easier to choose your attack technique in Octopath Traveler 2 than to release a perfect T-Spin in Tetris The Grand Master, the heaviness of the controls remains very real. This latency makes any exploration of the menus more laborious, directly impacting muscle memory: in wanting to do things “quickly”, we have become much more likely to blunder by choosing the wrong entry at the wrong time. And when the blunder happens in front of a devious boss, we want to test the capacity of the remote reader to just take a throw across the room.

All this without mentioning the aberrant technical design decisions, such as limiting the compatibility of Bluetooth devices to the latest duo of Pulse earphones and headphones (€219.99 and €149.99 respectively, just that) only available for pre-order at the time of writing, or that of having opted for a Wi-Fi 5 chip instead of the Wi-Fi 6 standard which would have guaranteed a minimum of futureproofing. Especially when we consider the recommended retail price: at €219.99, which is more or less half of a PS5, we would have liked a little more versatility in the uses offered. The idea of ​​being able to turn on (from rest mode only) and play your PS5 from a different network is an interesting prospect… But that was already possible with the PS Vita, peace to your soul, there’s almost that a good ten years. Even beyond the PlayStation ecosystem, Remote Play gaming is already possible on a host of different devices, whether smartphones or tablets. So obviously, it’s difficult to compete with the handling of the DualSense, notwithstanding the collaboration with Backbone, which Sony was promoting not so long ago.

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