The PlayStation Portal Remote Player isn’t a true handheld console, just a small screen connected to your PS5. And if its usefulness leaves us perplexed, its quality is sure to appeal, provided that we have a good WiFi network.

If you’re expecting PlayStation Portal to be a handheld console like a Nintendo Switch or ROG Ally, you’ll be disappointed: Sony’s recently launched device is more of a “remote player.” It is useless without WiFi and without the PS5 to which it connects, has no game storage capacity and only reproduces on its small 8-inch screen what the large console displays.

Which doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its charm. The small machine weighing 503 grams looks like a PS5 controller into which a screen has been inserted. This one may not be OLED but LCD, it has good definition and can reproduce up to 60 FPS in 1080p. We are actually surprised by the graphic quality of the games on this screen. We realize that holding it about 30 cm from our eyes is equivalent to the image that a 48-inch TV would give us from two or three meters away.

Once the PS5 is configured to be able to be controlled remotely, with a PSN account but without the obligation to have a subscription, the PlayStation Portal detects your PS5 in less than a minute and displays its home screen. For players who have used PS Remote Play before, the experience will be familiar. Here, however, we have a little extra, having in our hands both the controller and its integrated screen.

For quality, everything actually depends on your WiFi network. Sony recommends that PlayStation Portal and PS5 be on the same WiFi network. In our case, despite having an excellent router at home, the first experience was rather unpleasant, with a choppy image.

Everything changed when we plugged the PS5 directly via Ethernet into the router. The quality has become completely satisfactory, with barely increased latency which made us less agile in NHL 24, for example. For less charged RPGs like Mirage or Cyberpunk 2077, we barely noticed the difference.

Despite Sony’s recommendations, we tried the PlayStation Portal outside the home, and had mostly satisfactory results overall. However, the quality deteriorated on a few occasions when the second WiFi network showed signs of weakness.

The PlayStation Portal has a good battery life, almost 8 hours, and its reasonable weight allows you to hold it for a long time without tiring your arms.

There is a 3.5mm jack on the back of the PlayStation Portal into which you can plug headphones. For Bluetooth, only one model is accepted, the Sony Pulse Explore, sold separately for $269.99.

A little detour here to present these headphones that we also tested. Their main qualities are the rendering of sound details and the ability to provide immersive sound. The bass is present without being very impressive, and the latency delay is presented as extremely low, which is not of overwhelming use for the PlayStation Portal. The Pulse Explore can also connect to two devices simultaneously.

However, they don’t have active ambient noise cancellation and their design is odd, with a wing going up into the ear and difficult-to-access controls. Are they that expensive? No, in our opinion, and we prefer a good wired headset. Unfortunately, these are the only compatible Bluetooth headphones.

Additionally, one important control is missing: the touchpad in the middle of the PlayStation controllers. It has been replaced by a rectangular space that appears on the screen and which is much less practical.

Having a space and a television dedicated to our PS5, we are clearly not the target audience for PlayStation Portal. The experience on that little 8-inch screen, no matter how polished, will never beat the full setup. But it is a completely viable solution for the gamer who does not want to monopolize the family television, for the parent of young children who wants to be able to play discreetly in their bedroom, as a reader recently explained to us. The price, after all, is reasonable.

However, you must ensure one point: the reliability of your WiFi network for remote control of the PS5, which can be validated with the PS Remote Play application.

That said, this recommendation has little importance in the face of one unavoidable fact: the PlayStation Portal is simply nowhere to be found as of December 20. A large number of players were clearly attracted by the concept.