A new report from Tom Henderson at Insider Gaming claims Sony is developing a new PlayStation gaming handheld. But if you’re hoping for a successor to the PlayStation Vita then you might be disappointed.
Henderson reports that rather than developing a portable console that lets you play games natively, Sony’s “Q Lite” handheld is designed primarily to work with the Remote Play feature on the PlayStation 5 and stream games from the console over the internet. While Remote Play can be used outside of the home, Insider Gaming specifically notes the handheld is not meant for cloud streaming, so it sounds like it could be pitched primarily as a peripheral for PS4 and PS5 owners.
In terms of hardware, the Q Lite will reportedly come equipped with an 8-inch LCD touchscreen designed for 60fps gaming at 1080p and adaptive triggers similar to those on the PS5’s DualSense controller. Henderson reports the device could be released some time between the rumored PS5 with a detachable disc drive in 2023 and Sony’s other rumored PS5 hardware refresh, the PS5 Pro, in late 2024. It’ll need to be connected to the internet at all times while gaming.
Equipped with an 8-inch screen and adaptive triggers
Given we’re yet to see any hard evidence of those two other rumored consoles, I’m taking this new Q Lite report with a pinch of salt. (A spokesperson for Sony did not immediately respond to The Verge’s request for comment). But it’s an intriguing concept that could appeal to anyone who lives in a household with multiple people vying for time on the same TV.
It’s a struggle I’m all too familiar with, and so recently I went down a rabbit hole trying to work out the most cost-effective piece of hardware for streaming PS5 games. Although there are plenty of relatively affordable controller options for phones, from the likes of Backbone and Razer, I was put off by the idea of playing games designed for a TV-sized screen on my 6.1-inch phone screen. It also seemed a waste to buy a premium-priced tablet like an iPad just to stream games.
That leaves more affordable handhelds designed solely with gaming in mind. But no current offerings tick all my boxes. Buying a whole $399 Steam Deck feels like overkill if you’re only planning on streaming rather than playing games natively, and streaming-focused competitors like the $349.99 Logitech G Cloud or $359.99 Razer Edge aren’t that much cheaper. Sony will face the same pricing challenges if rumors of the Q Lite are accurate, and a price tag in the same range as the Steam Deck would make it a non-starter for me.
But, ignoring the price question for a second, Sony clearly has the hardware skills to make a great gaming handheld. This is the company behind not just the excellent DualSense controller, but two excellent previous handhelds in the form of the Vita and original PSP. I’m not saying I’m prepared to pay Steam Deck prices for the rumored Q Lite. But I’ve got more faith in Sony’s ability to make a device with satisfying controls than a company like Logitech.
One other concern is whether a new handheld would be locked into Sony’s ecosystem. Having a device that can only stream games using PS Remote Play would be limiting when handhelds like the Steam Deck support everything from Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming to Valve’s own Steam Remote Play. But given Sony’s other accessories like the Pulse 3D headset and InZone gaming monitors are cross-platform, it’s not out of the question for the Q Lite to be open to rival services.
Yes, it’s a shame that there are no rumors of Sony producing a true successor to the PlayStation Vita, including full support for playing games natively. But given the challenges of supporting two very different consoles with games, it’s perhaps not surprising that it might want to avoid splitting its attention in the future.