HP makes the Stream available in a choice of two wild colours, which for many browsing customers may be the defining aspect of the computer after the enticing price. The main pink colour encompasses the laptop, from underside to lid to screen bezel.With the display open this is complemented by a white tiled keyboard. For the pink averse, there’s also a version in Horizon Blue.The Stream feels plasticky, and that’s because it is, but perhaps because of the junior colour scheme it doesn’t seem too cheap.On the left side is an SD card slot and Kensington lock slot, the latter to help you lash the laptop down to secure your investment from casual theft. The card slot will be of especial value here since HP fits a minute 32 GB internal storage drive, from which around 20 GB is available after the Windows OS and other software has been accounted for. That 20 GB will quickly prove too small.You can pop in a 64 GB SDCX card for under 20 quid though, to give you the storage breathing space you will urgently need.On the right side are two USB ports, one each of v2.0 and v3.0, an audio headset jack, and HDMI to connect an external display. As with all modern laptops, there’s still a webcam in the bezel, built-in mic and tiny stereo speakers which sound out from under the front edge through small perforations in the casework. The sound volume was enough to hear the outline of a song, and should be fine with VoIP chats in quieter environments.
The screen of the Stream 11 is nothing special. It’s an 11.6-inch, 1,366 x 768 affair.It’s a little grainy when looked at closely – certainly compared to most mobile phones – but it’s typical of laptops this price.Brightness is also an issue.You’ll struggle to use it outdoors during the day, despite the fact that the non-glossy screen has an anti-glare coating. It’s fine indoors.Colours are really washed out, with the brightest of reds looking pink and the juiciest of oranges appearing slightly beige. Subtle differences in the brightest colours don’t show up either, making everything look a little soft. Black levels are poor too, with even the deepest of shadows looking grey.Viewing angles are quite good, however, so you’ll still be able to hold mini movie screenings with a friend or two. Ultimately, the screen is exactly what we’d expect from a laptop this cheap. The important point is it’s good enough for the Stream 11 to remain useable.
The speakers pleasantly surprised.you’d be hard-pressed to find a better-sounding laptop for such a cheap price.You can also tweak the audio profiles using the DTS Studio Sound control panel.The Stream 11 registered 90 decibels on audio test, which is much higher than the 84 dB ultraportable laptop average.
The Stream 11 gives you the opportunity to run offline programmes and apps like any other Windows 8.1 machine. For most people, this is at most going to mean Microsoft Office, Skype, and maybe a few games and leisure apps.However, most business users are unlikely to need even these. A huge majority of the most popular collaboration and productivity tools are run as cloud-based web apps, and browsing remains suitably nippy even with multiple tabs open.the Stream 11 won’t cope quite as well with more strenuous tasks. Any particularly CPU-intensive software will absolutely cripple its speeds, and high-spec rendering or graphic design software like Photoshop is definitely too much for it to handle.HP is one of the worst offenders, and the Stream 11 comes with a laundry list of unasked for apps including mysms, TripAdvisor, and six near-useless HP programmes.On the flipside, however, it also comes with Netflix, Skype, 7-Zip and a one year subscription to Office 365. All of these are actually good candidates for essential apps, so it’s a pretty even trade on the whole.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The white keyboard on the Stream 11 offers more travel than other Chromebooks.The keys are spaced apart nicely and look crisp and clean, with the white of the individual buttons standing out nicely from the blue dock. The four corner keys are pleasantly curved and easy on the eye.It’s a good keyboard to type on, too. All of the buttons offer a nice amount of travel, which allows for speedy, accurate typing.HP’s ImagePad trackpad is not quite as likeable. While it’s well-sized and offers a good level of resistance when you click, it feels cheap and flimsy.
Camera quality may not be as crucial to a laptop as it is to a smartphone, but it’s still an important feature, especially if you’re a keen user of Skype. The Stream 11 makes use of a front-facing HP Truevision HD webcam, which delivers pleasantly surprising results.The camera is more than good enough for video calls. It struggles in low light settings, but so do the webcams on far more expensive laptops.
HP claims that the three-cell Lithium-ion battery inside the Stream 11 will deliver up to eight hours and 15 minutes of life before it requires charging again. It just about delivered, too, as it managed just over eight hours of web browsing and YouTube viewing.It’s also a fast charger, going from flat to 24% in just 30 minutes. That would theoretically give you just under two hours of mixed use, or almost 90 minutes of heavy use.
The HP Stream 11 is a very nice laptop indeed. Perfectly suited to web surfing and cloud integration, if you can get past the slightly childish build and appearance, you’ll find a very capable machine under the surface.The value for money is absolutely stonking. Considering it costs less than a budget smartphone, the Stream 11 has no business being anywhere near this good. For business or pleasure, it’s a cracking laptop, and absolutely no problem wholeheartedly recommending it.