HP's new Stream tablets, laptops fuel Microsoft-Google OS battle

HP's new products will ship in November, and include a $99 7-inch Stream 7 tablet

HP Stream 13.3-inch laptop (2)

HP Stream 13.3-inch laptop (2)

Hewlett-Packard is fueling Microsoft's battle with Google's Android in low-cost devices with the first Windows-based Stream tablets, starting at $US99.99.

The tablets include the $US99.99 Stream 7 tablet, which has a 7-inch screen, and the $149.99 Stream 8, which has an 8-inch screen. HP is also announcing new Stream laptops -- which have been referred to as "Chromebook killers" - including an 11.6-inch model starting at $199.99 and a 13.3-inch model starting at $US229.99.

With the inexpensive Stream devices, HP is helping Microsoft compete with Google for market share in inexpensive tablets and laptops. HP also sells Chromebooks, but wants to offer a range of products to meet different needs. The first Stream product was the $US299.99 Stream 14, a 14-inch, Windows 8.1 laptop, which was announced earlier this month but has not started to ship yet.

The Stream products came into focus when a $US199 laptop was shown on stage at Microsoft's Windows Partner Conference in July. Microsoft wants to put Windows 8.1 in more inexpensive laptops as it tries to take back market share from Chromebooks, which are gaining in popularity.

But with a Windows tablet under $US100, HP's Stream is also helping Microsoft take on low-cost Android tablets. Earlier this month, Toshiba introduced a low-cost Windows 8.1 tablet with the 7-inch Encore Mini, initially priced at $US120 but which could drop to $US99 when it goes on sale.

The Stream products announced Monday will become available in November. They are expected to be shown for the first time at Pepcom's Holiday Spectacular event on Monday evening in New York City.

The Stream 7 and 8 are based on Intel processors, and provide the same Windows 8.1 experience as found on larger-screen tablets. Full specifications for the devices were not provided by HP.

The new Stream laptops by default have no touchscreen, but can be configured with one. Other features include 32GB of storage and an Intel Celeron processor. HP could only provide specifications for the 11.6-inch model, which weighs 1.28 kilograms and offers around eight hours of battery life. It has 2GB of RAM.

The Stream products have 1TB of free online storage on Microsoft's OneDrive service for one year. Google provides 100GB of free online storage for two years on Chromebooks sold by companies like HP, Samsung, Acer, Lenovo, Dell and others.

The Stream 8 and Stream 13.3-inch laptop also have an optional 200MB of free 4G data every month with no contract, HP said. The tablets are being packaged with one free year of Office 365 Personal. HP is providing services that can help sync music, photos and files across smartphones, tablets and PCs.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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