A low price on a laptop can make up for a lot of shortcomings. That is, as long as those shortcomings don’t interfere with you getting stuff done.
The 14-inch HP Stream, for example, is only $220 in the US and £200 in the UK. As long as your needs don’t leap too far beyond watching YouTube clips, sending email and using web apps, you’re golden. (HP doesn’t offer the Stream in a 14-inch size in Australia, but there is the HP 14-am034tu for AU$500, which is similarly configured, but with a 500GB hard drive instead of a 32GB eMMC.)
HP Stream 14 (14-ax010nr)
|Price as reviewed||$220, £200|
|Display size/resolution||14-inch 1,366×768 display|
|PC CPU||1.6GHz Intel Celeron N3060|
|PC Memory||4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz|
|Graphics||Intel HD Graphics 400 (128MB)|
|Storage||32GB eMMC storage|
|Networking||802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0|
|Operating system||Window 10 Home (64-bit)|
|Expansion||One USB 2.0 port, Two USB 3.0/3.1 ports, SD card slot, mic/headphone jack, HDMI out|
The 14-inch body is thin and it’s light at about 3 pounds (1.4 kg), but if you were hoping for something smaller, HP makes an 11.6-inch Stream for $20 less. It has the same internal components as the 14, but has one less USB 3.1 port and a microSD card slot instead of the 14’s full-size slot.
The Stream is a nice-looking laptop, too, assuming you’re cool with the bright blue color. It’s all plastic with ridges on the lid that give it texture and added grip. The blue continues inside except for the bright white keyboard.
With its meager 32GB of storage — only about half of which is available to use — it’s nice HP didn’t skimp on expansion options. An SD card fits almost entirely in the slot, too, so you could easily leave a card in there for files and applications.
You can, of course, use those ports for a keyboard and mouse to avoid the laptop’s touchpad and keyboard. The latter isn’t altogether unpleasant, but there’s very little travel and the keys feel thin and flimsy like they might pop off or stop working if you type too hard. The touchpad is generally OK, but I recommend shutting off most of the multitouch options like pinch-to-zoom and turning up the palm rejection setting.
If you’re hooking up a keyboard and mouse, though, you might as well connect a monitor as well. The laptop’s screen looks washed out, colors are off and I found myself constantly adjusting the angle in a futile attempt to make it look better. You know what worked? Outputting to a full HD display via HDMI.