The HP Stream succeeds where many others have failed: making cheap look good. And I mean cheap in a literal sense — the best laptops start around $1,000, while the HP starts at $200. It’s £149 in the UK, or around AU$300 in Australia.

Almost identical to last year’s model, but now running the Windows 10 operating system — and, unfortunately, a slightly slower processor — the Stream brandishes an 11.6-inch screen and a beautiful, vibrant shade of blue that I absolutely love. (It also comes in a magenta-ish color.) Like a vase of fresh flowers or a little puppy’s tummy, it makes me smile, and, judging by a few positive comments I got while using it in public, I’m not alone.

It’s also available in the US in a 13-inch version for a list price of $30 more, but we’ve seen the online price difference as little as $5. The larger model weighs 13 ounces (372 grams) more and its battery is about 25 percent less prodigious.


Josh Miller/CNET

Opening up the plastic laptop shell reveals a bright, white, perfectly spaced keyboard on top of a polished blue keyboard tray. In a departure from the solid matte blue found on the outside, the HP Stream has a glossy, gradient woodgrain pattern on its keyboard tray, adding more pizazz to its design.

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