Price points for next-gen headset Pulse Elite and wireless earbuds Pulse explore were also announced
Something to look forward to: Earlier this year, Sony teased us with an upcoming portable streaming device codenamed “Project Q.” Rather than having on-board processing, the device streams content from your PlayStation 5 over WiFi. Today, it revealed an official name, price, additional details, and a release window.
We first saw Project Q – Sony’s apparent Switch killer – in May. The handheld gaming machine is now officially called the PlayStation Portal. Sony promises the device will provide a “PS5 experience” in a portable package. It features an 8-inch LCD, capable of displaying games in 1080p at 60FPS. Its controllers are the same size and shape as the PS5’s DualSense but cut in half and attached to the sides of the screen. However, Sony didn’t mention if the controls were detachable like the Switch’s Joy-Cons.
The most significant difference between the PS Portal and other handheld gaming machines is that it is strictly streaming. It does not need the most potent portable processors because the hosted PS5 handles everything. So internally, it should be very light, mainly requiring WiFi hardware and the PlayStation Link, which we will touch on in a moment. It also has a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Since it is essentially just a screen and controller components, the PlayStation Portal will only cost $200 when it launches later this year. That’s $100 less than the Nintendo Switch and more than $200 less than an entry-level Steam Deck. The main limitation is that it cannot play PS VR2 games or PS+ Premium games that stream from the cloud, which makes sense. Otherwise, any installed game on your PS5 should be compatible.
How well the PS Portal will handle streaming content from the PS5 remains to be seen. The current state of the PlayStation Remote Play app is much less than perfect. Using Remote Play, even with high-end hardware like a gaming PC, is still prone to occasional to frequent stuttering. Much of this depends on your wireless connection and whether you are playing over your LAN or the internet. Sony says the PS Portal requires at least a 5Mbps WiFi connection but recommends 15Mbps. We’ve tested Remote Play over much faster connections and still experienced stutter.
However, comparing the Portal to Remote Play might be unfairly premature. Hopefully, Sony employs an optimized solution that provides smoother gameplay than the app, and perhaps it will. In June, Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida said the company was ready to face the “high technical difficulties” the cloud presents. While he was more directly addressing cloud gaming, local streaming faces similar technical challenges.
Sony also updated us on its latest audio technology – the Pulse Elite wireless headset and the Pulse Explore wireless earbuds. The Pulse Elite headphones are just like Sony’s current Pulse cans, except for a few new features. Pulse Elite adds a retractible boom mic, AI-driven noise cancelation, and a charging hanger, all welcome upgrades to its current model. The Pulse Explore is a brand-new product, ideal for those who prefer lightweight earbuds. They feature dual microphones, lossless audio, AI noise filtering, and a charging case.
Both options utilize a new connectivity technology Sony calls “PlayStation Link.” This wireless system provides lossless audio between the PS Portal and the earphones and buds. It can also seamlessly switch between the PS Portal and the PS5. Unfortunately, the PS5 still requires a Bluetooth dongle to send and receive signals from either listening option.
Sony set an MSRP of $150 for the Pulse Elite headset and $200 for the Pulse Explore earbuds. However, a release window is still pending.