The Best PlayStation Portal AlternativesReading Time: 4 minutes
We’re not impressed with the PlayStation Portal. Here are better ways to game on the go.
All the details for the PlayStation Portal handheld are out, and, spoilers: It’s not the handheld console of your dreams. It is, in fact, an accessory for your PS5 that lets you streams games from your console anywhere with a wifi connection. Essentially, it’s improved hardware for PlayStation Remote Play, but for $200.
It’s not bad if all you wanted was a way to play Returnal in your backyard. But what if you’re looking for a true gaming handheld, one that worked, you know, anywhere—perhaps not tied to a console, or even a wifi network?
For exactly $200, the Nintendo Switch Lite offers a full-fledged handheld gaming machine that can play Zelda, Mario, and everything in between. It doesn’t require an internet connection all the time, and, just like the Portal, the controls are attached with the screen. Now, given this is the Lite model, the specs aren’t the best: You get a smaller 5.5-inch touchscreen instead of the 6.2-inch display on the original Nintendo Switch ($300), or the 7-inch display on the Switch OLED ($350). You also can’t connect to a TV, like you can with the Switch. But other than that, it makes for a mighty enjoyable gaming machine, especially considering the huge library of first- and third-party games available on all Switch consoles.
If you want a cloud gaming machine, why limit yourself to only the games you’ve already purchased on the PS5? Logitech’s G Cloud is an Android-based 7-inch device that connects to Xbox Cloud Gaming, NVIDIA GeForce NOW, and Google Play, and lets you play all the games in their subscription catalogs at a single price. Plus, it can run media apps, and has a lengthy battery life of around 12 hours. Yes, it’s a bit pricey at $300, but the game options are better as well.
The Retroid Pocket 3+ is a budget Android gaming handheld that retails at just $150. (Although it seems to be priced at $180 at the time of writing.) The console lets you play Android games of course, but it’s best suited for emulating old games. The machine comes with a 4.7-inch touch screen, 4GB of RAM, and the Unisoc T618 chip. It can emulate all systems up to Dreamcast or PSP really well, which leaves you with a massive collection of retro games to play wherever you are.
If you don’t mind paying a bit more for powerful emulation, check out the AYN Odin Pro, which typically costs $324 but is currently about $260. This, too, is an Android-powered handheld, but is an expert at emulating old games from GameCube, PS2, and Wii. The Snapdragon 845 processor, 8GB RAM, and Adreno 635 GPU can do a lot more than the Pocket 3+ we listed above. It looks similar, but it carries a larger 6-inch 1080p screen, and the curvier design makes it easier to use for long game sessions.
Your smartphone is more powerful than many handheld gaming devices, so why not convert it into a gaming machine? The Backbone One gives your iPhone or Android a solid set of controls to play your games with. It costs only $99 and even comes with a PlayStation edition, so you can play all your PlayStation games, with cloud gaming, and the familiar setup, for half the cost of PlayStation Portal.
Okay, okay: The Steam Deck is not a budget gaming handheld, but when you look at the whole package, it still offers a great value for the cost. Starting at $399 for the 64 GB model (but usually $450 on Amazon), it costs less than the PS5 itself. Plus, it can run a huge array of games from the Steam store. Steam Deck features a Zen 2 custom APU (a combined CPU and GPU) developed with AMD, which means you can enjoy AAA titles on the go without a computer or a PS5 doing the heavy lifting. It has an NVMe slot, so you can upgrade the SSD yourself to 512GB or 1TB, if you’d like.
The only downside is that it’s huge. It has a 7-inch IPS LCD screen, which is great, but the entire console weighs 1.5 pounds, is two inches thick, and is nearly a foot long. The battery life is also all over the place, ranging between two and eight hours, depending on what you’re playing. Long gaming sessions can become tiresome. That said, the joysticks are great, and the two touchpads make using PC-style games a breeze.
The Steam Deck is great, but it runs on SteamOS, which is its own version of a Linux operating system. A gaming handheld running Windows would bring the entire world of PC gaming in the palm of your hands, which is exactly what ASUS ROG Ally does—for the high price of $700. Still, that’s precisely how much a PS5 and Portal combo costs, so this might be the ultimate Portal alternative.
For all 700 of your dollars, you get Windows 11 Home, an AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme APU with RDNA3 graphics, 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM, and 512GB PCIe 4.0 SSD. That’s enough to play all the AAA games out there, on a 7-inch Full-HD touch screen with a 120Hz refresh rate. ROG Ally is also half as thick as the Steam Deck, and lighter as well. Plus, given it’s a Windows machine, you can play games from any game launcher or service: You aren’t just tied to Steam’s catalog.
It’s the closest thing we have to a truly portal gaming PC, and we love it for that.
- Nintendo Switch Lite
- Logitech G Cloud Gaming Handheld
- Retroid Pocket 3+
- AYN Odin Pro
- Backbone One (iPhone)
- Backbone One (Android)
- Steam Deck
- ASUS ROG Ally
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