Players have a lot to decide from when it comes to handheld gaming systems nowadays. With the release of Valve’s Steam Deck, Nintendo’s Switch, and Sony’s PlayStation Portal, the options almost seem endless. With three completely different handheld devices, each with their own take on gaming, choosing the best one sounds difficult. Fortunately, we’ve rounded up their differences and written them out to make the final decision in the Xmas gift showdown.
Which Is Better: Steam Deck vs Nintendo Switch vs PS Portal
The first thing that players need to take note of when it comes to these three handhelds is the games that can be played. Being developed by three completely different companies, their games are also completely different. With that out of the way, everything else is just a matter of how they work in your gaming niche.
Valve’s Steam Deck is made for handheld PC gaming. It was designed by Valve to play the games on their Steam client on the go, wherever you are. It runs on a Linux operating system known as SteamOS version 3, has a 1280 x 800 optically bonded LCD display, a 40Whr battery, a 256 – 512GB NVMe SSD, and its own power supply to ensure seamless gaming. The graphics are great in comparison to the other two options.
Nintendo’s Switch is exclusive to Nintendo property and will only play games released by them. It has a default 64GB storage that can be upgraded with a microSDHC and can only output up to 720p when played in tabletop mode. This is a huge, huge difference from either console with respect to a game’s performance. In fact, players have discovered intense framerate drops on newer games, showing the console’s current age.
The PS Portal is a remote-play console that connects to your PlayStation 5 using your at-home Wi-Fi. In other words, you won’t be able to use it unless you have a PS5 at home. It’s capable of 60fps at 1080p resolution on an 8″ LCD screen that doesn’t require a television to use at all. Alongside the above features, it also has haptic feedback and adaptive triggers using it’s unique DualSense controller.
The games available to play on Valve’s Steam Deck include most of the games in Steam’s library. Now, games are categorized according to whether or not they can be played on the Deck. There is even a dedicated section of the store for those specific games. That being said, most developers are also ensuring that their games are playable on the Steam Deck, so more and more games will be made available as time passes.
Nintendo’s Switch can only play games released for the Nintendo Switch. Of the three options, it’s also the only place you can play titles like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and Super Mario Bros. Wonder. You can purchase games through the console’s Nintendo Shop or buy them physically from most retailers. The physical games are much more portable since they’re cartridges rather than discs, making traveling with a stack of games much easier.
The PS Portal can play both PS5 and PS4 games through its remote feature. Since it connects directly to the console, you’ll be able to play all of your favorites like Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 from anywhere. Like the Switch, you can buy games physically, but the point of this console is to connect it to your home hardware, so you won’t really be able to switch games in and out. With the DualSense controllers, you’ll be able to experience the games as though you were sitting at home on your couch.
Multiplayer & Online Services
The Steam Deck doesn’t require any paid plan in order to play online. Just like if you were playing on PC, you simply need to connect with your friend and go in-game. Since the console is handheld, this means that you’ll be able to play in the same room as friends also playing on the Steam Deck and on PC. If the game has crossplay, you’ll even be able to play with your Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo friends.
The Nintendo Switch requires an online subscription in order to play online multiplayer with friends. The plan can cost between $9.99 for one month to $49.99 for one year. You do get access to other SNES and NES games and even upgrade to the N64 and Sega Genesis pack to get those games as well. If the online game has crossplay, you’ll be able to play with friends who have the game on other platforms.
The first thing that we noticed about the PS Portal is the fact that it does not have a web browser. While this may not seem like an issue for some, it is if you intend to use it in a public place that has WiFi that can only be activated by accepting terms and conditions from the location. This means that you really can’t use the device in places like McDonald’s and even the airport. Besides that, you still have to pay for an online subscription to play online multiplayer, but it’s attached to your PlayStation account, meaning that you don’t need it again if you already have it for the PS5.
Value For Money
The Steam Deck OLED can go up to $649 for the 1TB model that has up to 12 hours of battery life. The cheapest model goes for $399 and has 256Gb of memory and up to eight hours of battery life. Being the most expensive of the three, it’s also the only one that allows you to play most of the games that are popular on PC.
The Nintendo Switch goes for $299 and sometimes, you can catch it with an included game. Being the middle of the three in price, it’s exclusive to Nintendo titles and anything else that isn’t too strong for the device. You won’t find titles like Call of Duty on there on the day of release, but Nintendo has definitely been trying to get more popular AAA titles on the platform for gamers to enjoy.
The PS Portal goes for $199, being the cheapest of all three. The device is exclusively a streaming one, so you really can’t use it unless you have added hardware. In total, that makes for a nearly $800 console. Considering that, the value for the money is really not there, regardless of how many games it can play.
In our observations, we feel that Valve’s Steam Deck is the best gift you can give a gamer for the holidays. Not only do they have the ability to play online with your friends no matter where you are, but you also have access to an entire library of PC games for a fraction of the price. There is a lot more longevity with the Steam Deck since PC games don’t evolve the way that console games do. Just considering that, there’s a longer lifespan for this hardware than for the PS Portal or the Nintendo Switch.