When the news of the HP Stream first leaked online it looked as if HP was going to compete with Chromebooks for the budget laptop segment around $199. The Stream, like the Chromebook, relies mainly on cloud-based storage for keeping important documents safe. However, unlike Chromebooks which use Google’s Chrome OS the HP Stream uses a full version of Windows 8.1 so traditional Windows software is available.
Unfortunately, HP surprised us when they revealed the Stream has a starting price of $299. While that’s still very affordable for a Windows laptop, the specs aren’t particularly impressive. The Stream tips the scales at just 3.8 pounds and features a 14-inch display with a meager 1366 x 768 resolution, only 2 GB of RAM, a mere 32 GB of local storage, and a low-powered AMD A4 Micro processor that allows for fanless cooling.
The Stream does come with 100 GB of OneDrive cloud storage at no additional cost for 2 years, similar to how Chromebooks come with 100 GB of Google Drive storage, but it’s the 32 GB of local storage that has us worried. While 32 GB of storage would be enough for a Chromebook, consumers will be at risk of quickly run out of space for Windows applications. Sure, there are many cloud-based applications out there, but ones made for Windows still require more local storage space than their Chrome OS equivalents.
If you stick to traditional web-based apps like Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides, then you won’t have to worry about filling up that 32 GB drive … but then why did you buy a Windows-based laptop?
In terms of the design, the Stream is modeled after HP’s Android-powered SlateBook, with your choice of colored accents, one USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, HDMI and a microSD slot. Our guess is that users will rely heavily on that microSD card slot as a semi-permanent drive for installing Windows software. Of course, you also get standard b/g/n WLAN and Bluetooth. On the bright side, HP claims the small 3-cell 32WHr lithium-ion polymer battery will deliver up to 6 hours and 30 minutes of battery life.
The Stream 14-z010nr notebook starts shipping to customers on September 24th. The question is, how many people want to buy a Windows laptop without the storage space for all the typical Windows applications?