HP's Stream 13 is probably one of the cheapest Windows laptops you can buy now.
It has to be inexpensive. It is built to compete with Google's
Chromebooks, which are low-cost laptops running on Chrome OS. Likewise,
the Stream offers very basic computer hardware.
The processor is an entry-level Intel Celeron chip. It has 2GB of
RAM and 32GB of flash-based internal storage. This hardware is packed
into a plastic chassis weighing around 1.5kg and available in blue or
pink. It feels and looks a bit like a toy, but at least it is not bland
Out of the box, it has only 15GB of free space for your apps. But as
with some mobile devices, the laptop's limited storage can be extended
via its microSD card slot.
The Stream runs Windows 8.1 with Bing, a special version that sets
Microsoft's Bing as the default search provider for the Internet
Explorer browser. But you are not forced to use it. You can switch to
your preferred search engine or install other browsers.
The keyboard is shallow but spacious. The touchpad supports
multi-touch gestures and feels responsive enough. The screen has no
Viewing angles from the sides are decent enough that I could read
text clearly, but colours are extremely washed out. With its mediocre
1,366 x 768-pixel resolution, the screen is probably the worst feature.
The budget character of this laptop is evident from its ports and
connectors. It has just one USB 3.0 port, along with two older USB 2.0
ports. There is no Ethernet port.
What gives this laptop an edge over Chromebooks is that it comes
with a year's subscription, for a single user, to Microsoft Office 365.
You get access to Microsoft's office productivity suite, which includes
a generous 1TB of cloud storage.
In addition, the Stream bundles a Windows Store gift card (worth
$35) and offers a year's access to global Wi-Fi hot spots operated by
American company iPass. These are located conveniently at hotels and
It all sounds great, especially when the final bill is just $349.
Just keep in mind the downsides: a mediocre screen and underpowered
hardware. To be fair, battery life was good at 6hr 53min.
A budget laptop that offers good value if you can stomach its mediocre performance.
Processor: Intel Celeron N2840 (2.16GHz)
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics
Screen size: 13 inches, 1,366 x 768 pixels
Connectivity: 1 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0, HDMI, microSD card slot, headphone and microphone combo jack
Battery: 36 watt-hour
Value for money 4/5
Battery life 5/5