The Onexplayer Mini has me skeptical about the Steam Deck

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When Valve announced the Steam deck, I decided to skip the pre-order circus. My PC worked perfectly fine, every current console I own already has, and the internet in New York City is high enough to really make cloud gaming a reality. I just can’t justify dropping hundreds on another gaming device. Still, I’m second guessing my choice. what if i could play Horizon Zero Dawn On the go without the need for an internet connection? The possibilities made me feel FOMO.

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So I was thrilled to learn that Valve had as much competition as OneExplayer. Created by OneNotebook after a successful crowdfunding campaign that raised more than $2 million, the device brings PC games to a dedicated handheld that’s more portable than a laptop. OneNotebook is running its initial device with the OneXplayer Mini, a smaller and less expensive model that looked like it might be a good option for anyone who hasn’t been able to grab a Steam deck.

Despite its impressive specs, the Oneexplayer Mini still feels a little experimental. My experience with handhelds produced inconsistent results, which made me question whether portable PCs are really the solution gamers need.

dream Machine

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Cynical gamers may be tempted to label OneXplayer Mini A “knockoff”, but it is not accurate. From a hardware standpoint, it’s a well-designed machine for what it is. It’s a bulkier Nintendo Switch — I’m talking Game Gear thick — that’s loaded with PC parts.

A OneXplayer Mini stands next to a Nintendo Switch OLED.

It also comes with an 11th generation Intel Core i7-1195G7 and an Iris Xe Graphics G7 96EU, which aren’t exactly the right parts for a gaming laptop. The battery only lasts for two hours while the game is running, which isn’t great for those who want to take it on long subway rides. However, PC grade cooling fans help to extend battery life and reduce lag.

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The controller shell is well built, which mostly takes its cues from the Xbox. You have a standard ABXY setup with triggers, bumpers, two sticks that pivot easily, and a proper D-pad. It’s a step up from the Switch’s joy-cons, though they can’t be separated from the console. Unlike the standard Oneexplayer model, the Mini doesn’t feature a kickstand.

The whole thing is comically large and has a huge top vent that vents loudly like a plume of train smoke.

Oneexplayer Mini's ABXY buttons and joystick.

The whole thing is comically large and has a huge top vent that vents loudly like a plume of train smoke. It’s about twice as thick as the Switch, though it’s not as heavy as it might seem—it’s actually lighter and smaller than the Steam Deck, which scares me. It’s a little less dense than Nintendo’s machine and has comfortable hand grooves instead of just being a large rectangle.

As for the screen, the OneXplayer Mini comes with a 7-inch 1920 x 1200 touch display that looks perfectly good (though every portable one currently pales in comparison to my Switch OLED). Those strengths got me excited to load up some AAA games and see what the Beast was capable of.

This is where things got complicated.

reality check

First, it’s important to understand that Oneexplayer doesn’t have any custom UI like the standard console. It’s literally a Windows 11 computer stuffed inside a handheld. When I boot up the machine, I’m staring at a standard computer desktop. When I type, the mobile friendly keyboard doesn’t come on screen. Instead, there’s a button on the device itself that brings up Microsoft’s standard on-screen keyboard, which is too small and hard to use here. Sometimes I tap a button on-screen and it doesn’t respond, forcing me to restart the system. Some games that I boot up assume I’m playing on a PC and prompt me to press a key to play.

The specs and build are impressive, but it feels like a jury-rigged machine at times. As I start downloading games and apps, I start seeing more of it. When I try to download the EA’s native app, I’ve got an internal error, noting that I’m unable to install it. when i try to open Battlefield 2042, I get another error asking me to go to a website and update my intel drivers. Doing so doesn’t get rid of the message, leaving me with ominous warnings that games may not freeze.

Battlefield 2042 runs on a OneXplayer Mini.

Disappointing results for such a promising device.

That’s the bottleneck with these portable gaming PCs. They may seem like devices you can just pick up and play with, but they require the maintenance of a PC. And doing so on a 7-inch screen with a small touch keyboard isn’t ideal (though it does have a USB 4.0 port if you want to connect PC peripherals).

After some fiddling, I managed to activate Xbox Game Pass and Steam on the machine. I decided to start deep and work my way up. Battlefield 2042 First of all, which is not to go immediately. A stuttering frame rate makes it clear that the machine can’t quite hit that scale of AAA games. To be honest, Battle field It barely plays well on PC right now anyway, so I’m ready to let it slide.

After this, I tried to boot hello infinity, It takes me several tries to tap with nothing happening, but I eventually get the app open. After an unusually long load, I’m thrown into a nightmare version of the menu where every texture on the screen is flickering in and out. I manage to load a game of bot bootcamp and the whole game crashes before even taking a step.

They were pipe dreams, of course, so I turned things down a bit by downloading Burnout Paradise Remastered, something that can run on the Switch. At first, it looks like I’ve found a sweet spot. I’m driving around a city and everything seems smooth… until the game freezes completely within a few minutes. street fighter v It seems to work smoothly until I’m asked to enter a Fighter ID. The Windows keyboard won’t open, so I can’t play without hooking up an external keyboard.

The Art of Rally runs on the OneXplayer Mini.

Looking serious, with the prospect of running modern AAA games, I jumped into the indie tier. I finally got success cyber shadow, a retro throwback 2D platformer on Game Pass, and art of rally (Though I had to turn its graphics settings down to medium). Great, though they’re both available on the Switch, so it’s not the high-powered spectacle I was expecting to see. I am also able to share screen easily encryption Steam to device, though the bizarre default button mapping makes it very difficult to play.

That’s seven tests with only two true successes – disappointing results for such a promising tool.

The future of gaming?

My experience with the OneXplayer Mini made me wonder if the emerging “portable gaming PC” trend made much sense. i couldn’t run hello infinity At that, but I can easily stream it to my phone via Microsoft’s cloud service. Most of the games I could actually play on it could run on my Nintendo Switch, a cheaper console that’s less complicated. What can Oneexplayer do that I don’t have on other devices? I still don’t have a good answer.

Keep in mind that this is no small investment either. The lower-end 512GB model will cost players $1,259. For comparison, a comparable model to the Steam Deck costs $649.

oneplayer
a-netbook

I had previously expressed skepticism for the Steam deck when it was a rumor, noting that it looked like a piece of stopgap technology. Why drop hundreds on another new device when the cloud makes it possible to play cyberpunk 2077 On an older iPhone? The way technology continues to trend, gamers will soon need less devices, not more.

Still, I get where something like the OneXplayer Mini would be useful for a certain type of gamer. If you live in an area that has terrible Internet infrastructure (like, you know, most of the United States), the idea of ​​a proper portable PC that doesn’t require an online connection to play is tempting. In a complete implementation, a machine like this could be an quintessential luxury item for those who want to stay in the PC ecosystem but still play from anywhere.

I’m just not convinced the OneXplayer Mini is that device based on my tests and, frankly, I’m not sure the Steam deck will either. Simply cramming an OS into a gaming controller shell isn’t a very elegant solution, as explained here. This is a technical turdkan. I imagine that later iterations of the technology would have put more thought into the user experience, which would reflect the rapid development of redundant VR headsets, but alternative technology like cloud gaming is advancing just as quickly. Any company that wants to compete with Switch will need to get to market fast, as the window won’t be open for long.




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