If you are looking for a budget lightweight laptop that helps you to get plenty of computing tasks accomplished, the HP Stream 11 also known as the Chromebook killer, provides plenty of capacity for getting things done.
Many computer users are fans of the Google Chromebook which succeeded in pushing ahead of Microsoft in terms of being the cheapest computer on the market. In an effort to top Google, Microsoft has been releasing a line of inexpensive computers. One of which is the HP Stream 11 which runs on a full version of Windows 8.1 and is an 11.6 inch laptop that you can pick up for less than £126.00
What is the HP Stream 11? Who is it aimed at and who is it suitable for?
The HP Stream 11 is a small laptop computer that runs on Windows 8.1 with 32GB of Solid State Drive storage. The Solid State Drive is a more durable hard drive since it is void of any moving parts that can easily wear out. Additionally, in place of a 64GB storage option you get one year of OneDrive cloud storage for free.
Although the HP Stream is geared toward cloud users, you can still work offline when there is no wireless hotspot available. Microsoft has included a free subscription to Office 365 for one year which makes the HP Stream 11 geared toward anyone who wants to get things done on the go.
To me the bright fluorescent like colours make the device look like it is geared toward young children, along with a white keyboard and dotted pattern on the palm rests. However, if a colourful device does not pose an issue, the HP Stream 11 can be used by adults and children alike.
What is the design and aesthetics like?
The HP Stream 11 has a chunkier design than some of the ultra books on the market with dimensions of 8.1 by 11.8 by 0.8 inches. This still does not prevent you from tucking it into your bag or backpack plus, it comes with an AC power brick that you can carry with you. This is a little different than the compact adapter you typically receive with other portable devices.
The HP Stream 11 looks just like a netbook and weighs in at 2.74 pounds. The exterior design is rather stylish and is available in a bright cobalt or magenta colour.
On the edges of the HP Stream 11 you will find the same types of ports that are present on the Chromebook. This includes two USB ports, HDMI port, SD card reader, and headphone jack. There is also a Kensington lock slot that allows you to secure the device. This is especially useful if the device is being used in a classroom environment.
The display does not provide touchscreen functionality and is surrounded by a thick bezel and has an anti-glare matte finish. There is also a 720p webcam located on the top bezel of the screen.
Surprising for a small device, you get a nearly full-sized keyboard that has an ample amount of space between the keys. This gives you the experience of typing on a full keyboard and reduces errors when typing documents and emails. There is also a little extra travel in the keys to make typing a pleasant experience.
The touchpad supports multitouch gestures and allows you to easily sail through the Windows Start screen using easy side to side gestures. The touch pad also supports single one finger tracking and measures in at 3.75 x 2.5 inches.
On the underside of the HP Stream 11 are two speakers that are facing downward. This has an effect on the sound quality. However, the volume is pretty decent plus, you can enjoy enhanced sound quality by using a pair of headphones.
What are the technical specifications?
The HP Stream 11 is built for moderate computing and is designed to be compact for those who want to get things done on the go.
The HP Stream 11 is equipped with a dual-core Celeron N2840 processor running at 2.16GHz with 2GB of Random Access Memory (RAM). This is more than enough processing performance for getting through everyday computing tasks. The performance is very comparable to the Acer Aspire and the Dell Inspiron 3000.
In terms of graphics processing performance, benchmark tests have showed the HP Stream 11 outperformed the Chromebook 2 with graphics computation of 12 frames per second as opposed to 9 frames per second.
As we mentioned earlier, the Solid State Drive provides 32GB of onboard storage which is just over 21GB when you subtract the space occupied by Windows 8.1. The additional SD card reader also provides you with an additional 32GB of storage space.
The HP Stream is equipped with the same port connectivity options as the Chromebook. The ports include one USB 2.0 port and one USB 3.0 port. Additionally there is a full-sized HDMI port and 3.5mm headphone microphone jack.
The HP Stream 11 is equipped with Wi-Fi capability that operates on the 802.11 b/g/n standard. You also have access to Bluetooth 4.0 for connecting Bluetooth-enabled peripheral devices such as a headset or wireless speakers.
Despite the fact that the two speakers are facing downward, the HP Stream 11 produces fairly loud audio. The device is also equipped with DTS (Dolby Theater Systems) sound and offers a control panel which allows you to adjust the audio profiles. The registered decibels in benchmark test hovered around 90 to 92 decibels which is right within range of the Chromebook 2.
What is the display like?
The display that is included on the HP Stream11 is equipped with a 1366 x 768 high definition resolution screen and has decent viewing angles for multiple viewers. The display is quite good as long as you use the top few brightness settings and has relatively sharp colours and decent contrast.
The display does not provide touchscreen functionality for using Windows 8.1 apps. However, it is the only high definition screen on a device of this price range. It also has anti-glare protection with a few tradeoffs which include washed out colours when the screen brightness is on the highest setting. Additionally, it is necessary to tilt the screen back 25 to 30 degrees in order to get the best viewing quality.
During tests for screen brightness, the HP Stream 11 came in slightly below the Chromebook with 165 nits on the average. This is significantly less than the Samsung Chromebook which averaged about 214 nits and the HP Chromebook 11 at 267 nits.
The display does not have IPS (In Plane Switching) which is not noticeable when you are sitting in front of the device. However, if you are sitting at an extreme angle to the Stream 11, the compromise in viewing quality is noticeable. Additionally, if you are using the device for presentations, an external display is necessary. But overall, the display is not bad for the price point.
What OS does the Stream use and what is included?
Microsoft has partnered with Hewlett-Packard to include a full version of Windows 8.1. This makes the HP Stream 11 one of the most inexpensive computers that has Windows 8.1 installed. This provides you with full access to all features and apps included in the Windows 8.1 operating system.
Microsoft has also designed the Stream 11 with cloud computing in mind. This means if you require more storage than the included 32GB and SD card storage, you have access to 1TB (terabyte) of storage on OneDrive free for one year. OneDrive is Microsoft’s cloud storage service. Once the year is up, you can purchase cloud storage for as little as £4.45 per month or £44.60 for the entire year.
Additionally, Microsoft has included a one-year free subscription to Office 365 Personal. Once the year is up, you can purchase a monthly subscription to Office 365 for as little as £6.37 per month. Additionally, the Stream 11 includes a £16 gift card for the Windows Store.
Hewlett-Packard has also included some of its own apps including Connected Music, Connected Photo, and Connected Drive. You will also find a few third party apps such as Netflix, Amazon, and TripAdvisor.
What about the battery life?
The HP Stream 11 is equipped with a 3-cell Lithium-ion polymer battery which has a battery life of just over eight hours. However, in benchmark tests when playing a video with the screen brightness set at 50 percent and the sound volume at 100 percent, the battery lasted about nine hours. This makes the Stream 11 ideal for carrying you through your day and students that plan to use it in the classroom.
When compared to the Chromebook, the battery life on the Stream 11 is slightly less. But then again, the Stream 11 does a lot more than the Chromebook thanks to Windows 8.1 and access to Office 365.
If you use the Stream 11 for heavier computing tasks such as continuous wireless Internet browsing with the screen set at a brightness of 100 nits, you can expect the battery to last just over six hours. Moderate to heavy use results in a battery life that is less than the Chromebook which lasts just over nine hours.
Are there any Stream 11 Accessories?
If you plan to use the HP Stream 11 on the go, there is an ultra-portable neoprene case that you can purchase that will protect the device from minor impacts and scratches. The case comes in a nice variety of bright colours and is made of waterproof neoprene and shock absorbing material.
You can also opt to purchase a wireless mouse and a mini speaker, and other accessories at an additional cost on the HP website.
Pros and cons
The HP Stream 11 provides a lot of value for the money with access to the full version of Windows 8.1 and a high definition display. As a quick overview, here are a few pros and cons:
- The low price includes one year of free access to Office 365 and 1TB of OneDrive storage.
- Nearly full-sized keyboard provides a pleasant typing experience.
- Audio speakers provide DTS controls.
- Decent processing performance for the price.
- Inclusion of an HDMI and USB 3.0 port is unusual for a device of this calibre.
- Relatively good battery life.
- The hard drive is divided into a 7GB recovery partition and a 22GB hard drive.
- Display is a tradeoff for the cheaper price.
- Paying for additional years of Office 365 and OneDrive may end up costing more than the device purchase.
Should I buy one?
The HP Stream 11 is a full-fledged Windows device that is priced lower than most of the Chrome OS devices. This makes it a no-brainer for shoppers that are looking for a budget laptop that will help them to get things done on the go.
The HP Steam 11 is also very portable and sports an exceptional keyboard. For a device of this calibre, the audio is not bad and you can always give it a boost with a great pair of headphones. Additionally, the HDMI port allows you to use the Stream 11 on your flat screen television for large screen entertainment. Plus, it comes with a Windows Store gift card which reduces the price.
THE FINAL VERDICT
Overall, with a full version of Windows 8.1, 1TB of cloud storage, and access to Office 365, it is obvious that Microsoft has designed the Stream 11 to occupy a market that was previously taken over by Chromebooks. Although it is still a budget laptop with a few tradeoffs to prove it, I think the drawbacks can be forgiven when you look at all of the other advantages to this little laptop.So, if you are looking for a portable laptop that is stylish, less expensive and more capable than a Chromebook, I think you will be pleased with HP Stream 11.
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