Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
HP Stream 11 laptop
This small and inexpensive laptop looks good and feels god to use, but don't expect blazing speed
- Good size and good looks
- Comfortable keyboard
- Non-glossy screen
- Screen looks a little dull
- Performance sometimes sluggish
Price$ 299.00 (AUD)
It's not an expensive laptop, and it's not a boring one either. HP's Stream 11 (named so because of its 11in screen size) has jumped into the laptop scene with splash of colour and an overall list of features that make it a nice pick-up if you're a student or, indeed, anyone after a small, yet budget notebook.
Our test unit arrived with a blue colour that faded towards aqua on the dot-patterned palm rest, and the white keys gave a good contrast. It's an aesthetic that made the Stream 11 fun to use. What also helped is that the configuration and overall feel of the laptop are good considering the small price that you pay.
The engine room features an Intel Celeron N2840 CPU, which has two threads and a frequency of 2.16GHz, and there is 2GB of RAM and a 32GB solid state drive (SSD) installed. It's a configuration that supplies ample quickness for standard Web browsing, online communications, word processing, simple photo edits, and video playback (it can handle 1080p MP4 file playback just fine), so it's good enough for most school work and typical home usage. That said, there will still be times when it will feel sluggish.
In our Blender 3D rendering test, a time of 2min 30sec was achieved, which isn't as fast as what we've seen from similar products that use an Intel Atom (Bay Trail) chip, for example, but there were only few instances where the product felt like it was bogged down. Mostly, they were times when the Web sites we were visiting had lots of Flash elements to be processed. We also noticed a delay while typing this review up in Google Docs, in which the text appeared slowly and sometimes took ages to delete. You should expect a little bit of that with this product; after all, it's not a top-of-the-line performance product.
We like the keyboard on this laptop. It has white keys that are large and easy to hit while typing your life story, and they are quiet enough so that you won't disturb others while banging away in a quiet environment. The Function keys at the top serve to change things like the volume and brightness, and also to invoke Flight mode. If you have a need for actual F-number keys, you have to press the Fn button to activate them. The only annoyance is the half-sized up and down arrow keys.
A touchpad is centred according to the chassis, and it's of a good size so that you can move the pointer easily across the screen's 1366x768-pixel native resolution. It didn't get in the way while typing, and it was responsive to our gestures. It does two-finger vertical scrolling, three-finger flicks, and a few other things, too.
Connectivity to a wireless network is via an Intel Dual band Wireless-AC 1360 Wi-Fi module, which, if you have an 802.11ac capable router, will allow you to connect and transfer files on your home network at a reasonably fast clip. Copying large files from an Asustor NAS to the HP Stream 11 over a D-Link Viper router, we achieved an average rate of 20 megabytes per second (MBps).
You won't want to copy too many files over to the laptop, though. Its 32GB SSD showed us a formatted capacity of 21.7GB in Windows 8.1 with Bing (so named because Internet Explorer is set to the Bing search engine by default), and only about 10GB of that was left for our own data files and programs. Luckily, there is a full-sized SD card slot on the left side through which you can store some extra stuff on a semi-permanent basis since the card sits all the way inside the slot.
In CrystalDiskMark, the SSD recorded a sequential read speed of 173.8MBps and a write speed of 58.26MBps, and both of these rates are not bad at all for an entry-level device.
Other things to note are that there are two USB ports (one USB 2.0 and one USB 3.0, both on the right side), and you also get a full-sized HDMI port so that you can hook up a monitor or TV with ease.
We were able to use the HP Stream 11 for streaming video off the Internet (we used NBA League Pass for this), and it also acted fine when streaming music from Google Play Music and over to our Bluetooth-enabled stereo system. So, basically, we can vouch for the product’s name being a suitable one with all the streaming we did.
Overall, the Stream 11 is one of HP’s more interesting entries in the consumer laptop space, and it’s an entry-level unit that should be just fine for anyone who wants a basic and small computer. Its battery life is good (it lasted 6hr 17min in our video rundown test), its screen isn’t glossy (though it does look a little dull), and the overall build and feel of the unit is not cheap (despite the price). Performance was good for the most part, but did get a little sluggish at times (understandable since it’s a Celeron).
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