I’ve been using the PlayStation Portal for a month — here’s my verdict on if it's worth the restock hype

The PlayStation Portal on a counter with the start screen for Horizon Forbidden West
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
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I’ve spent the last month with the PlayStation Portal, and over those 30 days, I’ve been continually impressed with this PS5 accessory. I didn’t expect to have such a fondness for this remote-play device before launch, but now that I’ve got one, I’m seriously glad that Sony took a punt on the Portal. 

It’s not just me that’s taken a shine to the PlayStation Portal either. Right now, there’s a huge amount of interest in the handheld device. Ahead of the holiday season, the gaming gadget is among the most in-demand tech items in the world, and PlayStation Portal restock tracking has become a daily necessity for those eager to get their hands on one. 

If you’re currently researching where to buy a PlayStation Portal, or trying to decide if the dedicated remote play machine is worth its not-insignificant $199 price tag, then let me run you through the highs (and lows) of my first month with the PS Portal. 

Delightfully well-designed  

A PlayStation Portal showing Marvel's Spider-Man 2

(Image credit: Future)

The most immediately striking thing about the PlayStation Portal is its design. In short, it’s a PS5 DualSense controller chopped in two with a 8-inch display sandwiched in between each half. And as bizarre as it may look to some, its biggest strength over its rivals such as the BackBone One is that it feels premium to play on. 

Transitioning from playing on your PS5 console to the PlayStation Portal doesn’t require you to wrap your brain (and fingers) around a reworked control scheme. Instead, all the buttons are in the same place you’d expect to find them. This makes switching between playing on your console and Portal completely seamless. Your muscle memory will transfer across, and all the DualSense's next-gen tech is here as well including adaptive triggers and haptic feedback. 

It also helps that the Portal’s 8-inch LCD is almost certainly larger than your smartphone’s display — which is what the BackBone One or Razer Kishi V2 utilizes. Much as I would love a PlayStation Portal OLED, I’ve still been impressed by the crispiness of the Portal’s LCD screen, and visually impressive PS5 games such as Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 and Alan Wake 2 still look fantastic when played on the Portal.  

A PlayStation Portal displaying Alan Wake 2

(Image credit: Future)

The Portal’s chunky design does mean you lose some of the flexibility that comes with one of the best phone controllers, but the superior play experience is worth having to hold a bulkier device. Plus, as I’ll discuss later, the Portal is not a travel device, so its decreased portability compared to some alternatives is far from a dealbreaker.

Playing in new places 

Naturally, the PlayStation Portal offers complete freedom to play the best PS5 games pretty much anywhere within your home. You will need a home internet connection that stretches to cover each room, but one of best Wi-Fi extenders can help you eliminate any dead zones. 

My PS5 is hooked up to a television in my home office, which suits me well most of the time, but now I can take my play sessions literally anywhere within my small apartment. If I want to play some Elden Ring in bed, I can, or if I feel like playing a few games of EA Sports FC 24 in the kitchen, that’s no problem either.

A PlayStation Portal showing Elden Ring

(Image credit: Future)

I’ve recently started a second playthrough of Cyberpunk 2077 to check out the new Phantom Liberty expansion pack, and it’s been a genuine relationship-saver being able to explore Night City from the sofa while my partner binge-watches her favorite Netflix series right next to me. 

On my 260 MB/s home Wi-Fi, I’ve experienced barely a dropped framerate when playing single-player games. I have witnessed instances where the image quality has dropped significantly, but these tend to last only for a few seconds and are infrequent enough that they don't impact my ability to enjoy gaming on the Portal.  

I’ve had a rather rocky time when attempting to play multiplayer, but that’s a limitation I can tolerate. I reserve my online sessions for playing on the PS5 and primarily use the Portal for chipping away at larger RPGs and open-world games. 

It’s not for everybody 

PlayStation Portal being tested.

(Image credit: Future)

For as much as I’ve praised the PlayStation Portal above, I do feel that the device comes with a fairly significant caveat. There’s no escaping the fact that your mileage will vary. I’ve had a relatively smooth experience all things considered, but I’ve heard stories from colleagues who have endured the opposite and found the device almost unusable. 

It’s impossible to know how the PlayStation Portal will react to a specific network environment unless you’ve got it in your hands and can test it out for yourself. That’s why I suggest if possible, trying out a friend's Portal before committing to buying one. Even if your internet speeds are well above Sony’s recommendations (5 MB/s minimum, 15 MB/s recommended) you could still face issues as my colleague Nick Pino did when reviewing the PlayStation Portal. 

It’s also worth noting that the PlayStation Portal is not a travel device. Last month, I took it on a trip to see how it would fare with hotel Wi-Fi, and the results were extremely poor. To Sony’s credit, the Portal’s marketing materials explicitly explain it requires “home Wi-Fi” to function, and it’s never been positioned as a Nintendo Switch killer. So, if you want a gaming gadget for playing on the go, then the Portal isn’t what you’re after, perhaps you should consider the Steam Deck OLED instead?

Should you buy a PlayStation Portal?  

If you want the flexibility to play your PS5 pretty much anywhere within your home, then the PlayStation Portal is a smart buy. It offers a better play experience than its rivals like the BackBone One, and in my experience, plays games smoothly with only the occasional minor visual hiccups. 

However, if you have complete control of the TV that your console is connected to, and have no real interest in playing your PS5 games elsewhere in your home, then you can easily live without the PlayStation Portal. The handheld gadget doesn’t play games natively, and its suitability for travel is highly questionable. 

Nevertheless, if you’ve got a solid home Wi-Fi network, and you know what you’re buying, then the PlayStation Portal is a seriously useful, albeit a luxury, device. And it’s one that I’ve found myself booting up surprisingly often over the last four weeks. 

Of course, buying a PlayStation Portal is easier said than done at present. Most major retailers have been out of stock since mid-November. That's why we’re tracking PlayStation Portal restocks every single day, so be sure to check out our full guide as we’ll alert you when the device is available so you don’t have to pay an overinflated price on the resale market.

More from Tom's Guide

Rory Mellon
Entertainment Editor (UK)

Rory is an Entertainment Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on gaming and streaming. When he’s not reviewing the latest games, searching for hidden gems on Netflix, or writing hot takes on new gaming hardware, TV shows and movies, he can be found attending music festivals and getting far too emotionally invested in his favorite football team. 

  • johnnydubs
    Um....I thought the PS Portal had an 8" screen.
  • Adamham
    I share this extremely positive view of the portal, but I've got to disagree about it not being a portable device. I've been playing all week in New York while my ps5 sits idle in Chicago. Yes I'm on a strong other-persons-home network... but I've had no problem. And also had similar success at a third location. My verdict is that the portal actually works fantastically away from the home, as long as the wifi is solid!
  • de.coded
    As said, marketing is poor and for good reason. There just isn't many things innovative of this device.

    I found this article through Google but here sums up everything most are saying, putting as many perspectives here with the criticism:

    I can't share a lot of the sentiment of the article. But that's because I could buy a clamp for my phone that's compatible with my dualsense or buy one of those switch-like controllers and that wouldve been more portable than that portal since it's not like you can do phone calls or communicate with others properly with this like you can with a phone.

    Really the only reason why someone would even reasonably get this today is for the feel of a dualsense controller being split in half in a switch-like configuration with the haptics and all without the bloatware of a regular device, that's it. If only these were made-to-order for the intended audience instead of being scalped and possible e-waste.

    A number of critics and I would have a different opinion if Sony opened this up to allow us to Android apps on this since at the end of the day, this is an Android device but locked down and with the libraries to only do remote play.

    It would be worth the price tag if:
    The bootloader was unlocked, allowing us to install any OS
    Android APKs are installable, allowing for us to use things like GeForce now and by extension use game pass, some of our steam library, + even the Google Play Store!!!They used the 'PlayStation Link' that they introduced alongside this, which would've given this low latency audio, looking online there isn't much info on this. This should've been explored more and marketed.If the above is true, even if it's community done, It would be worth it as a fancy-feeling emulation handheld on top of a streaming handheld.

    To water down basically everything I said, the build quality and even internals of the device are good, even with the price tag. The software sucks vs the competition making it not worth it.
  • rjorgy23
    Ummm...your internet speed literally HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOUR EXPERIENCE, GAMEPLAY.... before you write a review, please make sure you know what you are talking about man. Holy crud this is horrible.

    The playstation portal only plays games you already own and have installed on your ps5. And you can't use it outside your own network. It doesn't play cloud games from the Sony cloud service (which is utterly a mess)

    It simply does exactly what the ps remote play app does that is already available for all smart phones and pc's...

    The only thing that matters is how fast your router speed is. NOT YOUR INTERNET!

    Heck you don't even need your router to be connected to the internet.

    For best performance simply get a router with decent wifi 5 capabilities and have a little devices as possible connected to it and hardwire your ps5 into your router for less lag and interference.

    Man your need to get a new job. This is hilarious