Review: Inexpensive HP Stream 11 wants to be as cloud-friendly as a Chromebook, with Windows 8

Sarah Tew/CNET
Microsoft and HP are now actively promoting a new HP line, called Stream. These low-cost laptops and tablets are being sold as essentially Chromebook-style devices, meant for low-power online use, but with the added utility of Windows 8. These systems, including the N36,000 HP Stream 11 are pitched as being cloud-friendly, which is a polite way of saying they're too under powered to satisfactorily run a lot of standard apps. The Stream includes codes for a one-year subscription to Microsoft Office 365 and 1TB of online storage for one year through Microsoft's OneDrive service.

The Stream 11 has a low-resolution non-touch 11.6-inch display, runs an Intel Celeron processor, combined with 2GB of RAM and a minuscule 32GB of solid state storage, more than half of which is consumed by the operating system and related files. In that sense, it really is Chromebook-like, and not idea for local storage of big files or large applications. You can, however, use the included SD card slot to add another 16 or 32GB of space.

The reason you might choose this system over a Chromebook, which is really a more polished (if limited) low-end experience, is that you can install Windows apps such as Photoshop, Office, or iTunes. They won't run great, but they're there if you need them in a pinch.

Price as reviewed            N36,000.00 ($199, £179, AU$299)
Display size/resolution   11.6-inch, 1,366x768 screen
PC CPU:                         2.16GHz Intel Celeron N2840
PC Memory:                   2GB DDR3 SDRAM 1333MHz
Graphics:                        64MB Intel HD Graphics
Storage:                          32GB SSD
Optical drive:                 None
Networking:                   802.11b/g/n wireless, Bluetooth 4.0
Operating system:          Windows 8.1 (64-bit)

Design and features
The HP Stream 11 looks nice, at least for a N36,000.00 laptop. Skipping the cheap glossy grey plastic of so many budget laptops, it's instead covered with a matte blue (or pink) pattern, with a subtle dotted gradient on the keyboard tray.

The outer surface is fingerprint-resistant, and the body is stiff enough to feel safe to travel with, although everyone who looked at our test system saw a little bit of warping on the base, bowing the keyboard tray up to the center-right. It wasn't enough to make the laptop look truly deformed, but it certainly wasn't ruler-straight.

Thanks to its low-power platform, the system can run without fans, which helps with weight, heat, and battery life. The Stream 11 weighs a modest 2.8 pounds (1.3 kg), and has been, in our experience quiet and cool while running.

The large keyboard feels like it was dropped in from a more-expensive laptop. The island-style keys have minimal wobbling under the fingers, and a deep enough click for longer-form typing. Function keys are reversed, as on most HP laptops, which means you can access commands such as volume and brightness controls without having to hold down the Fn key.

The wide touchpad fared less well, offering two-finger vertical scrolling that worked well, but otherwise touchy performance, including edge-of-pad Windows 8 gesture commands that triggered far too easily.

The 11.6-inch screen has a 1,366x768 native resolution, which is about what one would expect from a budget laptop, but still not great for viewing HD video. The Windows 8 tile interface scales well, however. The screen has a matte finish, which is a plus, but also poor off-axis viewing, again adding to the budget feel.

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About Abula Gist

'Tunde Ojedokun is an Editor working for Lappyphone, he loves technology. You can't see him without a gadget. .


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