When there were first rumblings of a PlayStation Portable or PlayStation Vita revival from Sony, there was a decent amount of excitement. Then in May of 2023, Sony revealed the first batch of details about their consolized go at the burgeoning Steam Deck market with their Project Q device. It feels ages ago, but Project Q was first officially confirmed only two months ago during Sony's 2023 Showcase:
This week, Sony revealed more details about their device, and much of the initial enthusiasm has decidedly dampened. First, Project Q has been renamed to the PlayStation Portal, and it will launch at the price of $199.99/€219.99/£199.99/¥29,980. Even weirder is how Sony expects you to use this device. The handheld connects to a user's PS5 console via Wi-Fi and plays its games over Remote Play. Wi-Fi is the only option as it is a streaming-based portable, and there is no way to use it offline and it doesn't come with any ability to use LTE or data in the even your home or apartment goes offline.
Worse, there's Bluetooth support. Which translates into you needing to buy new "PlayStation Link" compatible headsets. As stated in Sony's press release, PlayStation link is a new proprietary wireless audio technology. As they put it, "To communicate with the PS5 and PlayStation Portal, the audio devices utilize a new technology that Sony calls PlayStation Link. Link is built directly into the Portal remote player, but you’ll still need a dongle for the PS5." On top of that, PlayStation Portable will not be able to engage in local play, not use PlayStation Cloud, and the battery life is planned to be "on par with the Dualsense." I don't know about you, I don't think matching the DualSense's battery life is a good idea. But worse of all, Sony has been coy about which games in the PS5's catalogue will be compatible with the Portal because their last comments seem to suggest it's not every game. For example:
“PlayStation Portal will connect remotely to your PS5 over Wi-Fi, so you’ll be able to swiftly jump from playing on your PS5 to your PlayStation Portal,” says Hideaki Nishino, senior vice president of platform experience at Sony Interactive Entertainment. “PlayStation Portal can play supported games that are installed on your PS5 console and use the Dualsense controller.
With Sony relying on proprietary software, they have also been weird about establishing the maximum radius of the Portal. Thus far the tech press has been skeptical of what they have seen and experienced in demos. Over on CNET, it was reported:
"The new PlayStation Link feature, however, is intended to take the Portal a step above any of that hardware. It's a new wireless protocol used by the Portal and the new Pulse devices. Described by the company as "Remote Play turned up to 11," Link allows PlayStation to optimize the connection between the devices and the PS5 since it controls the hardware on both ends, the same way some wireless headsets, mice and keyboards may do via a 2.4GHz dongle. "
"I noticed no lag when playing Returnal, a bullet hell roguelike game, along with less intense action titles such as Astro's Playroom and God of War Ragnarök. Take this with a grain of salt, however, since I was in a demo room, sitting only a few feet away from the PS5. The rep did mention the Portal can connect to Wi-Fi, so playing in a different room, further away from your PS5, is another option. In fact, just like Remote Play now, you can connect your PS5 to the Portal and stream games from networks outside your home, but your Wi-Fi and connection strength will become a limiting factor."
So... I don't know who this is for? If any of you plan on getting this to compliment your PS5 experience feel free to share an elevator pitch on what it does to improve your experience. In a world where Sony already has a decent to fair remote play app when it isn't having mood swings, I don't know what this does to justify the asking price.