Digital prints made from a scanned color negative film file have a very different look than digital prints made from digital cameras. Scanning different color negative films will produce different results and different looks. It's hard to say what you will find looks better. It's worth mentioning that consumer print films were designed to be printed on minilab machines and will certainly give good results. I also think that it's wrong to assume that using a minilab and shooting Portra will be a waste of time, or that the machine will somehow "nullify" the results.

Tim