One Combine 4 mini-laptop assessment: 10 inch convertible with Intel Tiger Lake
Laptop computers have gotten thinner and lighter in recent years, with a handful of major PC makers releasing models that weigh around 2 pounds or less. But the One Netbook One Mix 4 may be in a category of its own.
It’s a 1.7 pound notebook with a 10.1 inch, 2560 x 1600 pixel touchscreen display, a 360-degree hinge that lets you flip the screen all the way around to hold the computer like a tablet, and it’s one of only a handful of devices powered by Intel’s Core i5-1130G7 Tiger Lake processor with Iris Xe graphics, a more energy-efficient sibling to the Intel Core i5-1135G7 chip.
The One Mix 4 is the latest in a line of tiny computers from Chinese PC maker One Netbook, and while it has a smaller screen than most competing laptops, it’s actually the company’s largest model to date. While it’s not small enough to slide into a pocket like some of One Netbook’s 7 inch models, the larger display makes it easier to use the One Mix 4 for real work. There’s also room for a nearly (but not quite) full-sized keyboard, which makes typing a little easier.
I don’t know how large a market there is for 10.1 inch convertible notebooks in 2021, but there’s certainly not a lot of competition in this space. So when One Netbook offered to send me a One Mix 4 to review, I was happy to get a chance to spend some time with the little laptop.
I’ve been using a One Mix 4 on and off for the past few weeks, and I’m very impressed with the computer’s performance. It’s faster than many of the larger laptops I’ve used recently and with an external display, mouse and keyboard plugged in I’d have no problem recommending it as a desktop replacement.
Mobile use is a bit more of a mixed bag. The keyboard and touchpad are more usable than those on some smaller mini-laptops, but there are still some quirks that take getting used to. There’s no webcam and the mono speaker isn’t all that great, so this probably isn’t the best device for video conferencing or media consumption on the go (unless you use headphones and/or a USB webcam). You may need a dongle if you want to connect a display, Ethernet cable, or other some other hardware). And battery life could certainly be better.
Given those trade-offs, the $1050 starting price for the One Mix 4 may seem a little steep. But again, there’s not exactly a lot of competition in this space. And as someone who has been covering small-screen laptops for a long time, I’m impressed at how far technology has come in the last 12 years – the One Mix 4 makes my old 10.1 inch Asus Eee PC 1000H look monstrously large, while offering significantly better performance on all fronts.
Where can I buy one?
The One Mix 4 is currently available from these vendors:
The starting price will get you a model with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of solid state storage, but One Netbook offers configurations with up to 16GB of memory and a 1TB SSD. The model the company sent me to test is a 16GB/512GB configuration that sells for $1160 at GeekBuying.
One thing to keep in mind is that GeekBuying is a Chinese store that ships products to international customers, while AliExpress is a Chinese marketplace sort of like eBay, where various sellers can run their own storefronts. The AliExpress link is for One Netbook’s official store on the services. But for the most part I’ve found that ordering from these types of stores is sort of like buying a product with no warranty. If there are problems with your product, there are limited opportunities for support.
|Display||10.1 inch LTPS LCD
2560 x 1600
Pen support (sold separately)
|CPU||Intel Core i5-1130G7|
|GPU||Intel Iris Xe (80eu)|
|RAM||8GB / 16GB LPDDR4x-3200 (soldered)|
|Storage||256GB / 512GB / 1 TB PCIe NVMe M.2 2280|
|Ports||2 x USB 4 Type-C
1 x USB 3.0 Type-C
1 x 3.5mm audio
1 x microSD card reader
|Battery||10,000 mAh, 3.85V, 38.5 Wh battery|
|Charging||45W fast charger|
|Dimensions||227 x 157.3 x 17mm
8.94″ x 6.19″ x 0.67″
|Price||¥ 115,200 ($1088) and up|
Design, features & ergonomics
The One Mix 4 is about the size and weight of a small hardcover book, although it’s probably thinner than most books. The model featured in this review has a matte black aluminum body that’s a bit of a fingerprint magnet, but which which has a minimalistic design – the One Netbook logo on the lid is just a stylized number one in a glossy finish.
Lift the lid and you’re greeted with a glossy, high-resolution touchscreen display surrounded by 4.5mm bezels on the top, left, and right sides. The bottom bezel is a bit thicker, but still pretty slim. One Netbook says the laptop has a 90-percent screen-to-body ratio, and that seems about right.
Keep in mind that the 2560 x 1600 pixel display means you’d see very tiny text and images if display scaling was set to 100-percent.
Out of the box, my One Mix 4 review unit was set to 250 percent scaling, but I found that I could go as low as 175 percent before the computer got difficult to use. This allowed me to fit more content on the screen at once, which comes in handy if you want to view more of a website at a glance or position multiple apps or windows on the screen at the same time.
The computer’s display supports capacitive touch input, and I had no trouble reaching up to touch the screen for taps, swipes, and other actions. This can be useful in laptop mode, but since the screen can also be folded back 360 degrees you can use your fingers as the primary form of input in tablet mode, or fold the screen 270 degrees and prop up the tablet in tent or stand modes and reach out to touch the screen.
It can also support digital pens with up to 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity, but I don’t have a compatible pen handy, so I haven’t tested that feature.
One reason One Netbook was able to keep the display’s bezels slim was that the company opted not to include a webcam.
There is a built-in microphone, so you could use the One Mix 4 to make voice memos, talk to Cortana, or make voice calls over the internet – but the mic is pretty lousy. You have to get pretty close to the notebook for it to pick up your voice at a decent volume, and in my tests it also picks up a lot of background noise. I think the mic is placed too close to the laptop’s fan, so the fan noise is about as loud as my voice in most recordings.
If you go into the Device Properties for the microphone and choose “Additional device properties” there are optional “enhancements” for noise suppression and echo cancellation which help minimize interference from the fan. But it also tends to make the audio sound heavily processed and a bit distorted.
So I would definitely recommend picking up a headset and/or USB webcam if you’re planning to use the little computer for Zoom calls or other voice or video conferencing.
A good set of headphones or external speakers would also come in handy for playing games, watching videos, or listening to music. The One Mix 4 has a small mono speaker that’s not very loud, lacks bass, and sounds like it’s positioned off-center, which puts it in the “I guess it’s better than nothing” category of laptop speakers.
Around the sides of the computer you’ll find two USB 4 Type-C ports, a USB 3.0 Type-C port, a 3.5mm audio jack, and a microSD card reader. There’s also a power button with an integrated fingerprint sensor on the right side. It does a decent job of detecting fingerprints, allowing me to login to the computer quickly – assuming I put my finger in the right spot.
Since it sits flush with the side of the laptop, it can be a little hard to find by touch alone, and may require you to glance at the side of the PC.
One Netbook describes the USB 4 ports as “full speed,” which suggests they’re basically capable of the same 40Gb/s data transfer speeds as Thunderbolt 4, but One netbook didn’t want to pay the certification fees to call them Thunderbolt ports.
I don’t have the hardware to test the data transfer speeds, but I can say that all of the USB ports, but I can confirm that the USB4 ports on the left side of the computer support video output (via a USB-C dongle) and charging, while the USB 3.0 port on the right side does not support charging and seems to have more limited support for video output (my HDMI monitor wasn’t detected, but Windows popped up a helpful message indicating that some screens that support DisplayPort technology might work).
The One Mix 4 has a backlit keyboard that’s almost the same size as one you’d find on a notebook with an 11.6 inch or 13.3 inch display. Almost.
While the letter keys on the One Mix 4 are about the same size as the ones on my HP Spectre 13 notebook, they’re positioned a little closer to one another, making the whole keyboard a little more narrow. That can take a little getting used to, but it’s not exactly a deal breaker.
The number and Fn keys above the keyboard are both half-height, which also takes a little getting used to. But the trickiest thing to get used to is the placement of the apostrophe, quotation, colon, and semicolon keys, which are positioned to the right of the space bar rather than to the right of the L key.
Below the keyboard, there’s a wide touchpad with support for multitouch gestures. This is certainly a step up from the optical touch sensor used in some other mini-laptops like the One Mix 3 Yoga (which has an 8.4 inch display). But opting the touchpad obviously takes up more room, which probably helps explain why the One Mix 3 Yoga has full-sized number keys, while the One Mix 4 does not, despite having a larger footprint overall.
The good news is that since the One Mix 4 keyboard is about an inch wider than the one on the One Mix 3 Yoga, there’s room for full-sized Tab, Caps, and Shift keys, which makes it much easier to use those functions.
Overall I find it easier to type on the One Mix 4 than on some of the company’s smaller mini-laptops like One Netbook A1, One Mix 1S Yoga, or One GX1. But I do find my hands get a little more cramped and I’m a little more typo-prone on this computer than on larger laptop or desktop computers.
In a quick typing test, I managed to eke out 83 words per minute with a 96 percent accuracy score. That’s not too much worse than the 99 words per minutes and 97 percent accuracy I scored when using an external keyboard. But I can type for longer before my fingers get tired when using an external keyboard.
A few other things to mention about the keyboard: you can toggle the backlight by pressing the Fn + space bar keys. And you can press Fn + Tab to toggle the computer’s fan speed between normal/quiet and fast/noisy modes.
It’s nice to have the option to ramp up the fan, because the computer can get warm when you’ve been using it for a while, with the bottom, sides, palm rest, and even the keyboard area getting warm to the touch. But even in quiet mode, the fan emits a high-pitched whining sound that can be rather annoying if you’re using the computer in a room where there isn’t much other sound.
Speeding up the fan makes it much louder (although it’s more of a white noise than a whine), so it’s probably something you’re probably not going to want to do all that often.
Performance & usage notes
I thought my favorite thing about this computer was going to be its size. But after using it for a few weeks, I can say that by far my favorite aspect is the performance. This is a tiny computer that’s just as powerful as a full-sized notebook.
When it comes to size, I decided years ago that 10 inch displays were the sweet spot for netbooks, offering a decent compromise between size and usability. You may not be able to stuff a 10 inch netbook into your pocket, but it’s so small and light that you can throw it in your bag anytime you’re going somewhere you think you might need a laptop because it won’t weigh you down much even if it stays in your bag all day. But it’s also got room for a decent keyboard and enough screen space to do real work on the go.
As it turns out, the way I work these days makes it a little hard to work on a 10 inch screen. You can squeeze multiple windows side-by-side so you can look at two apps or two browser windows at once. But it’s a lot easier to do on a PC with a 13 inch or larger screen.
Despite its compact size though, this computer is fast. When connected to an external keyboard and display, it’s speedy enough to serve as a drop-in replacement for any other PC in my house when it comes to my typical daily workload, which involves opening dozens of Chrome browser tabs to research and write articles for Liliputing while editing images using GIMP and Irfanview, streaming music from the internet, watching videos on YouTube, and occasionally viewing or editing documents in LibreOffice.
The computer even has enough graphics horsepower to handle some light gaming duties. It struggled to exceed 15 frames per second when playing Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, but the One Mix 4 should be capable of playing older, less demanding games. Batman: Arkham Asylum runs at close to 60 frames per second.
That’s despite the fact that One Netbook’s uses an Intel Core i5-1130G7 processor running at 7 to 15 watts in this little computer rather than the 15 to 28 watt Core i5-1135G7 processor used in most larger notebooks (and which rival mini PC maker GPD uses for its entry-level GPD Win 3 handheld gaming PC), the One Mix 4 is able to handle most basic computing tasks with ease.
Both chips are based on 11th-gen Intel Core technology and both feature Intel Iris Xe graphics with 80 execution units. The only real differences are that the Core i5-1130G7 has lower power consumption and runs at slightly lower CPU and GPU frequencies.
In synthetic PCU and graphics benchmarks, it scores only lower than a GPD Win Max handheld gaming PC with an Intel Core i5-1135G7 running at 20 watts, and in real-world usage I had no problem streaming 4K video from YouTube, opening two dozen Chrome browser tabs at once, editing images, or doing just about anything else I’d do with a full-sized laptop.
In fact, this laptop with a 4-core, 8-thread processor that runs at around 7 watts or less most of the time, offers better single-core performance than the 45-watt, 6-core, 12-thread Core i7-9750H processor that powers the Dell Vostro 15 laptop I picked up two years ago. The Dell laptop comes out ahead in multi-threaded tests, but the margin is a lot slimmer than I’d have expected.
One thing to keep in mind is that if you need sustained performance, you might be better off with a different processor. The One Mix 4 processor’s power consumption tends to hover around 7 watts under heavy load, occasionally spiking as high as 9 watts, or scaling down to 4 or 5 watts.
Under heavy load, I managed to get it to shoot all the way up to 25 watts by running Prime95, but just for a few seconds before throttling kicked in.
Opting for an energy-efficient processor often has a few benefits. Since the CPU generates less heat, it’s easier to keep cool, even in a thin and light laptop like the One Mix 4. And since it consumes less power than other members of the Intel Tiger Lake chip family, you should be able to eke out a little extra battery life.
Unfortunately the laptops has a relatively small 38.5 Wh battery. While that would be pretty good for a smartphone or tablet, it’s a bit on the anemic side for a notebook, and it shows in real-world battery life performance.
With screen brightness set to 50-percent, the One Mix 4 was able to stream 1080p video from YouTube for about 6 hours and 20 minutes before the battery died. And when I tried using the laptop to research and write content for Liliputing, the battery gave out after about four hours of moderate use.
I suspect you could get a little more run time if you’re using the computer for more casual tasks, or just running one application at a time. And I’m pretty sure that you should cut those battery life estimates in half (or more) if you wanted to use the little computer for gaming.
It’s a little disappointing that a computer designed to be small enough to use as a take-anywhere device doesn’t get longer battery life. But the good news is that it comes with a 45W USB-C charger that’s not much larger than a smartphone charging adapter, and it should be compatible with third-party chargers that support USB Power Delivery.
You can even use it with a portable power bank as long as you’ve got one that supports USB-PD. And while that means you may have to carry around some extra gear, it can let you keep working or playing for longer without looking for an AC outlet.
The One Mix 4 supports WiFi 5 and Bluetooth 5.0. Overall the wireless features seem to work as expected, but I found that the WiFi range was a little better when connected to 2.4 GHz networks than 5 GHz networks. That’s not surprising, because while 5 GHz tends to be faster, it tends to lose strength over longer distances. But my 802.11ac router is located on the third floor of my house, and when I tried using the One Mix 4 in my first floor dining room, the 5 GHz connection dropped out periodically, so I had to switch to 2.4 GHz to maintain the connection. That’s not something I have to do with other devices.
Can it run Linux?
Yes. But the out of the box experience isn’t quite perfect.
I was able to load Ubuntu 20.04.2 LTS on a USB flash drive, plug it into one of the USB4 ports, and then hit the F12 key during startup to enter the computer’s BIOS/UEFI settings. From there I was able to manually choose the flash drive as the boot device.
When Ubuntu first loaded, everything was sideways.
Opening a terminal window and typing “xrandr -o normal” caused the display orientation to switch from portrait to landscape, and the One Mix 4 became a pretty usable little Linux laptop.
In my quick test, I found that WiFi, audio, and video all work. The keyboard shortcuts for adjusting volume and screen brightness were functional, and I could toggle the keyboard backlight easily. I also had no problem using the touchscreen… until I tried to switch to tablet mode and rotate the screen.
Ubuntu did detect the screen rotation, but instead of switching seamlessly between landscape and portrait orientations, when I lifted the computer and rotated the display 90 degrees, everything went wonky – Ubuntu consistently treated the screen as if it were in landscape orientation when I was holding it in portrait, and vice versa.
The good news is that the touchscreen continued to work, so I guess you could theoretically disable auto-rotation and just do it manually with keyboard commands. Advanced users may also be able to find a way to keep this from happening at all, but that’s above my pay grade.
Sleep also seems to work with Ubuntu – I was able to close the lid and watch the status LED switch from solid blue to blinking blue after a few seconds. When I lifted the lid, I was able to get back to what I’d been doing. But since I didn’t install Ubuntu to the computer’s built-in storage, I can’t comment on long-term performance issues or battery life.
Can I upgrade it?
If you want to increase the amount of storage available, you can remove the six tiny screws holding the bottom panel of the computer in place using a Phillips screwdriver. With the lid off, you’ll be able to access the computer’s single M.2 2280 slot.
Just keep in mind that you’ll have to remove the pre-installed SSD to upgrade the storage, so you may want to clone the SSD before replacing it. This may not be an issue if you plan to switch from Windows to Linux or another operating system though.
When I opened the chassis, I didn’t see any obvious way to upgrade the memory or other hardware, but it’s worth noting that a lot of the hardware was covered up and I didn’t want to remove any adhesive and risk damaging components meant to help keep the system from overheating. But I’m pretty sure the RAM is soldered to the motherboard.
The One Mix 4 is a tiny laptop that’s small enough to take anywhere, but large enough to be useful for a wide variety of activities. It has a convertible tablet-style design, which further expands the number of ways you can use the little computer. And it’s surprisingly powerful for a PC this small.
But it’s also a rather expensive computer, selling for $1050 and up. That’s not really an unreasonable price for a thin, light, and powerful notebook. But it might be a tough sell for one that has no webcam, only gets around 4-6 hours of battery life, and which has a slightly awkward keyboard and an occasionally noisy fan.
That price puts the One Mix 4 in direct competition with premium 13.3 inch and larger laptops from major PC makers. And in terms of performance, the One Mix 4 can hold its own. But in terms of size, I can’t help but feel that this is a device that holds more appeal as a secondary PC than as a primary computer – its biggest strength is its small size, but that’s also its biggest weakness in terms of usability.
I’d have a hard time recommending the One Mix 4 as anyone’s only computer unless you plan to dock it to a keyboard, mouse and display for work at home or the office, and value small size over ergonomics and screen real estate when using a laptop on the go.
The One Mix 4 fills a niche that’s gone largely unfilled for a long time. It’s a 10 inch laptop that’s far smaller, and far faster than netbooks of yesteryear. It just also happens to be far more expensive as well.
One Netbook also continues to sell a variety of other small form-factor computers, so if a 10 inch convertible laptop isn’t your thing, the company continues to sell smaller models like the 8.4 inch One Mix 3 Yoga, 7 inch One Mix Yoga, One Mix 2 Yoga, and One Mix A1, and purpose-built devices like the OneGX1 mini-gaming laptop with a 7 inch screen, 10th or 11th-gen Intel processor options, and support for detachable game controllers.
Thank you to One Netbook for supplying Liliputing with the One Mix 4 demo unit featured in this review.