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The PlayStation Portal could get me to switch to PlayStation from Xbox after 23 years

Published Mar 22nd, 2024 5:10PM EDT

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For my entire gaming life, I’ve been an Xbox gamer. Don’t get me wrong — I’ve owned other consoles. In fact, I own the PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch OLED right now. That is the life you sign up for when you want to play exclusive games.

However, the Xbox has always been my core platform to game on. My first console was the original Xbox back in 2001, and while I certainly had friends with the PlayStation, I grew up with Xbox. I owned every single generation from the Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One (my, were you a disappointment), the Xbox One S, and the Xbox Series X.

Incredibly, this is the first time I’ve owned more than one console. I never owned a PlayStation before the PS5 and I’ve never owned a Nintendo console before the Switch OLED. And, after a few years of playing the big three, my diehard allegiance to Xbox is starting to break — and there’s one new gaming accessory that could get me to name another platform as my default.

I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect portable

I should add some context as to why the PlayStation Portal could be such a game-changer for me. In addition to being a big console gamer (sorry, my PC brethren), I’ve also been on the hunt for a fantastic portable experience. I remember back when I owned a GameBoy (I guess I did own a Nintendo console) and really enjoyed the ability to take my games with me when I was away from my main console.

Now, that idea is really starting to hit its stride, and products seem to be popping out everywhere. So, I dived in. I tried the Backbone One, which turns your iPhone or Android smartphone into a portable gaming console. I tried the Nintendo Switch, of course. I’ve also tried a remote player like the Logitech G-Cloud.

Nintendo Switch 2 may be delayed to Q1 2025.
Nintendo Switch 2 may be delayed to Q1 2025. Image source: Nintendo

However, none of these portables worked for me for one big reason: they just weren’t comfortable to use. Each of these products featured controls that were cramped compared to the Xbox controller (and occasional PS5 controller) I was used to. I’ve been spoiled by good controllers, so I couldn’t except the sacrifice that came with smaller control setups.

I know that you can buy some other products to make this better, but they come with their own tradeoffs. With bigger Switch controllers, you still end up purchasing a game that has worse graphics quality than you do on Xbox and PlayStation, so when you play it on your TV, you get a subpar experience in comparison. As someone who mostly plays on my TV, I’d rather buy the game on Xbox or PlayStation to enjoy that enhanced visual experience when I’m in front of my TV or gaming monitor but have the capability to access those games on the go.

Nintendo Switch OLED video game console
Nintendo Switch (OLED model) in handheld mode. Image source: Nintendo

For Xbox, I could throw a ton of money out of the door for a Legion Go or ROG Ally, but I’m just not willing to make that kind of financial investment. And, while there are some accessories that allow you to use your Xbox controller, it results in using an iPhone, which — as picky as this seems — doesn’t give you a 16:9 aspect ratio, so everything feels cramped. There’s cramping everywhere!

PlayStation seems to have recognized all of these issues and created what might be the best portable gaming experience for someone like me.

Enter the PlayStation Portal

What I’m looking for in a portable is:

  • It’s less than $200
  • I’m okay with streaming games instead of having them installed locally
  • It can play my AAA games
  • I’ll survive without multiplayer
  • The controls are familiar and comfortable
  • It has a great display that matches the aspect ratio of my TV

With all of those in mind, the PlayStation Portal might be the portable gaming device I’ve been waiting for all along. The Portal features an 8-inch, 1080p screen that is capable of up to 60 frames per second of gameplay. The device is meant to stream games directly from your PS5 over Wi-Fi, so I can hop on and start playing in bed, in the kitchen, or even at a friend’s house or hotel room (if the Wi-Fi is fast enough).

Likely the best part of the Portal is the fact that you actually get the full DualSense controller experience. The Portal features what is basically a PS5 DualSense controller cut in half. While you’re missing the touchpad, you still get the haptic feedback and adaptive triggers, matching the interactive experience you get when you play directly on the PS5.

PlayStation Portal handheld console accessory.
PlayStation Portal handheld console accessory. Image source: Sony

It also features built-in speakers and a microphone like the DualSense controller. The only issue with audio here is that it still doesn’t support Bluetooth, so if you want to listen to audio privately, you’ll need to pick up Sony’s Pulse Explore or Pulse Elite headphones. The battery life, since it is only a remote streaming device, is also great, clocking in at around 8-10 hours of gameplay.

All of this adds up to an experience where I can buy a game on my PS5, enjoy the incredible graphics and interactivity that the console provides, and then still retain most of that experience on the go. That’s exactly the experience I’ve been looking for.

I really wish Xbox would build something similar, especially since it already had a leg up on PlayStation when it comes to cloud gaming. While the PlayStation Portal can only stream games directly from your PS5, Xbox is already way ahead in terms of allowing people to stream games directly from the cloud to a ton of devices. If Xbox builds something similar to the Portal, they could create an even better experience.

Until then, PlayStation really killed it here, and I’ll certainly be picking up a PlayStation Portal as soon as I can find one (I eat my words from 7 months ago). I’m curious to find out if — once I actually get hands on with it — I’ll start buying games on PS5 by default. My Xbox and Switch could both turn into consoles that I only keep around for exclusives.

Joe Wituschek Tech News Contributor

Joe Wituschek is a Tech News Contributor for BGR.

With expertise in tech that spans over 10 years, Joe covers the technology industry's breaking news, opinion pieces and reviews.