PlayStation Portal: A comprehensive breakdown of the upcoming PSP-like handheld device

WTF is it?

A new addition to the PlayStation gaming landscape is on the horizon but can it truly follow in the footsteps of the esteemed Vita and PSP? Well, let’s dive into the facts and ask all the important questions to figure out what's in store for the future of handheld gaming, at least from Sony PlayStation.

So what is it?

Is this the next stage of handheld gaming evolution? A worthy heir to the legacies of Vita and PSP? A conduit for savouring beloved games while mobile, sans the necessity of an internet tether? Not exactly.

The PlayStation Portal is primarily architected to capitalize on PlayStation's Remote Play functionality. This signifies that it won't engage in cloud streaming. Much like the PS VR2, its usage mandates the possession of a PS5.

Sony reveals that it's actively exploring cloud capabilities. The company discloses its experimentation with cloud streaming for PS5 games, with intentions to integrate it into the PlayStation Plus Premium tier. This would facilitate game time without necessitating downloads, and it would extend to players leveraging PS Remote Play.

How much will it cost?

The much-awaited PlayStation Portal price point has finally surfaced, and it pleasantly outstrips expectations, set at a tantalizing $200/£200 (₹20,000 approx). Sony tantalizingly hints that pre-order specifics are forthcoming, yet the actual release date remains slated for "later this year."

That’s great but just tell us the specs!

Sporting an 8in LCD touchscreen, the PlayStation Portal pledges "vibrant visuals and seamless gameplay streamed from your PS5 while you're away from your television," as per Sony's proclamation. This promises a high-definition visual treat consistent with the calibre of games crafted by eminent developers. This comfortably surpasses the Switch's 6.2-inch screen and even overshadows the Steam Deck's 7in. Gameplay can reach up to 1080p at 60FPS over Wi-Fi.

The contraption bears semblance to a split-apart DualSense controller, boasting a substantial screen at its centre. Sony asserts that it encompasses pivotal features of the DualSense wireless controller, encompassing adaptive triggers and haptic feedback—granted, subject to a game's compatibility.

Awaiting hands-on experience, judgments on comfort and gameplay viability remain pending. 

Sneaked glimpses of a prototype unit, via leaked videos and images, unveil Project Q running on Google's Android OS, adorned with a tailor-made Sony UI overlay. The extent to which users can potentially access other streaming services via Google Play Store remains unclear. Modding enthusiasts are poised with curiosity, wondering if the device could support emulation. Speculation even flits towards the possibility of Xbox Cloud Streaming compatibility down the line.

Is Wi-Fi a constant necessity for gaming streams?

PlayStation Portal is not meant to stand alone but rather complement your PS5 so it seems connectivity to the internet is indeed mandatory. A bit of a bummer if you were hoping to play on flights, but hey, that’s not the aim of the device it seems. Sony recommends a minimum 15Mbps connection speed. Remote Play extends its embrace beyond your domestic abode.

Initially, Portal will exclusively accommodate games pre-installed on your PS5. Sony clarifies this in its August 2023 post, underscoring that "games streamed through PlayStation Plus Premium's cloud streaming are not supported."

The post adds, "PlayStation Portal becomes an ideal companion for gamers sharing a living room TV or those aiming to relish PS5 games in alternative spaces within their home. Operating remotely via Wi-Fi, PlayStation Portal facilitates seamless transitions from PS5 to the Portal.

PlayStation Portal is compatible with supported games residing on your PS5 console, employing the DualSense controller. The device is also equipped with a 3.5mm audio jack for wired audio. Regrettably, it does not support PS VR2 games reliant on the headset or games streamed via PlayStation Plus Premium's cloud streaming.

Sony, however, leaves no doubts regarding its ambitions to enhance its cloud streaming service, hinting at future updates.

That’s not the entirety of Sony’s agenda, is it?

Nope, Sony has also bestowed insights into the Pulse Elite and Pulse Explore, the newest additions to the PlayStation wireless headset and earbuds lineup. Both harness custom-designed planar magnetic drivers, boasting lossless audio capabilities thanks to PlayStation Link — a low-latency, lossless audio technology adept at seamlessly switching between diverse PlayStation Link hosts, including a USB-adapter-equipped PS5 and the PlayStation Portal.

Diving into the Pulse Elite, audiophiles can revel in lossless audio quality that seems almost too good to be true. Sony's also included a retractable boom microphone. This coupled with AI-driven noise filtration, ensures that your voice takes centre stage while extraneous background sounds are relegated to obscurity. A charging hanger accompanies this headset as well. Priced at $150/£130 (₹13,000 approx.).

The Pulse Explore, on the other hand, marks Sony's foray into the realm of wireless earbuds, a bold venture marked by uncompromising quality. These earbuds inherit the distinguished background noise cancellation found in the Pulse Elite, all while delivering a lossless audio experience and arriving with a charging case. To partake in this premium auditory adventure, one must set aside $200/£200 (₹20,000 approx.). Yikes!

Sony PlayStation Portal doesn't support Bluetooth connectivity and you won’t be able to connect any and all Bluetooth headphones to it. It needs to have Sony’s badge of approval aka PlayStation Link. Any headsets that are compatible with this new wireless standard by Sony PlayStation will be able to connect to the Portal. As of now only the Pulse Explore and Pulse Elite support PlayStation Link.