Despite healthy competition in the PC gaming space and Microsoft and Sony going head-to-head in the console wars, Nintendo has something of a monopoly over the handheld market. The Switch and subsequent Switch Lite have become the default portable consoles, with no direct rivals.
Chinese company One-Netbook is looking to change that, albeit at a much higher price point - US$1,159 (approx. £820/€950) to be exact. The One XPlayer claims it can easily play AAA PC titles on the go, and it's now available via an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign.
To enable this, it’s powered by Intel’s latest Tiger Lake processors, with a choice of the i7-1135G7, i7-1165G7 and i7-1185G7. One-Netbook says the latter delivers 67% higher gaming performance than the AMD’s Ryzen 7 4800U, although there’s no comparison to the current Ryzen 5000 Series. That works in tandem with Iris Xe integrated graphics and up to 2TB of SSD storage - these are specs we’ve come to associate with premium PCs.
One XPlayer's UI is based on Windows 10, with One-Netbook specifically advertising its compatibility with the Steam store. This provides access to a huge variety of games, although it's not clear whether other stores (such as Origin or Epic Games) are supported. Not every game will be optimised for this form factor, either.
The most impressive performance comes from Gears 5, which can supposedly reach 130fps. Most AAA titles hit barely half of that, although GTA 5 and NBA 2K21 can exceed 80fps.
The device itself has an 8.4in LCD display, at a resolution of 2560x1600. It supports the full sRGB colour gamut and offers 10-point touch support, although there’s no high refresh rate. It’s much higher quality than you’ll find on the Nintendo Switch or Switch Lite, but that’s to be expected - OneXPlayer costs at least three times the price.
One-Netbook says the controls have been inspired by the Xbox, with classic ABXY buttons, two joysticks and linear triggers. A notable addition comes in the form of a one-click high performance mode, which increases the max output from 35W to 40W.
Other key features include a sizeable 15,300mAh battery, although One-Netbook hasn't quoted figures on how long you can game for on a single charge. There are also also double cooling fans for thermal management and a built-in kickstand for hands-free use. A fingerprint scanner is built into the power button, too.
All this means it looks remarkably similar to the Alienware UFO concept, which parent company Dell teased at CES in 2020. However, that device is unlikely to ever make it to market, at least in its current form.
Handheld gaming has had a resurgence in recent years, but most consumers will need plenty of convincing to spend four figures on a portable console. That's especially true when you consider the rumoured Switch Pro, a high-end version of the regular Switch expected to launch at some point in 2021. That device is expected to add an OLED display, Nvidia discrete graphics, improved battery and maybe even 4K support. We'd be surprised if the Switch Pro got anywhere near the One XPlayer in terms of price, which could make the latter a tough sell unless you value its extra premium features.
Still, it's great to see more companies experiment with creating handheld consoles. Sony are unlikely to return to this market anytime soon, but other manufacturers could follow One-Netbook in the not too distant future.
One XPlayer is expected to start at US$1,159 (approx. £820/€950) once it’s out of crowdfunding, although an early bird offer drops the starting price to US$899 (approx. £635/€740) for Indiegogo backers.