HP Stream 7: First Impressions

I bought the HP Stream 7 for a couple of reasons. First, my primary PC is failing. The keyboard doesn’t work properly, and sound has been shot. With this in mind, I can only assume the system board (where everything is) will eventually go. This forced me to make my primary PC which is a notebook homebound. However, I never bought a notebook because that is what the cool kids are doing these days, I bought a notebook so I could be productive not only at home, but away.

In reviewing the HP Stream 7 to see if it would be worth the price, the biggest attraction was the price at $85 for a full Windows 8.1 system. Even though there is only a 7” screen – the system should at least be able to perform when away. However, I will continue to use the “homebound” PC for work done at home. The Stream 7 has an Intel Atom 1.3Ghz Quad Core CPU. This will handle basic tasks well enough, but don’t expect this to be a performer. There is 1GB of memory, and a 7” 1280×800 IPS display. Storage is 32GB of integrated Solid State Flash with a micro-SD card support for 64GB. The tablet has a 3000mAh battery, integrated mic/speaker combo jack along with an integrated mono-speaker, and micro USB which is for charging or connection to accessories. The front camera is .3MP (VGA) and a 2MP rear camera. There is Bluetooth and Wifi-N support with Miracast, but no cellular connectivity. For new purchases, there is a 1 year Microsoft Office 365 subscription which includes 60 minutes of Skype per month. Along with the purchase, I also acquired a Class 10 64GB micro-SD card which will hold content.

The Good

The best thing is the price. If it was too expensive, I simply wouldn’t have been able to afford it. Obviously, anyone with my income, this is a major purchase at $125 (with SD card, and Shipping), but it is cheaper than even some Chrome OS PCs with similar hardware specs (larger screen on Chrome PCs). However, Windows is still a preferred OS for the applications. Some things simply don’t work, or work well enough as a web app.

Software for the printer I have is integrated into the tablet. This will actually allow me to remove the printer drivers from my old HP 2000 series, and utilize a Cloud Print protocol exclusively in that manner. And to my suspicion, the Tile Interface works much better with a touch screen than it does with a non-touch screen.

The system can handle basic tasks well enough for now. I installed Facebook, Hulu, Dropbox, and Twitter. While browsing through the tile interface, there was settings to have content defaulted to the micro-SD card which is what I would have wanted to do in the first place.

The Bad

Right off the back, the bad is the memory. There is only 1GB, and that would become a hindrance when doing a lot of activity. In reality, no PC in my opinion should be sold with less than 4GB. And they could have cut the cameras out. Simply put, most people will use their phone to take pictures. I also don’t have confidence the CPU can handle me in the long run. Copying the old PC settings caused things to not work properly. This meant I had to reset the PC, and Microsoft likes to demand a code to be sent to your phone during the set up process even though you are entering credentials.

For some reason, I hadn’t got the keyboard to come up in Desktop interface, which means I can’t take an advantage of the Office 365 trial. The app store is lacking, and while I know I can still install XP+ exe files, I would rather not put those greater demand applications on the limited storage of the primary drive. The Stream 7 has a blocky feel, but this should be forgiven considering the $85 price tag.

It would seem that for what ever the reason trying to use Google Docs in IE on Metro is a lot to be desired. I am not sure if this is because there is special javascript involved or if Microsoft has still failed to make their web browser compliant. Either way, it will be hard to get any major productivity accomplished until I can get a Bluetooth Keyboard, mouse, and tablet stand. I also found the battery doesn’t seem to want to charge quickly. I am hoping that this is just because the battery has to wear in, so I will revisit this issue in the full review.

The Ugly

Let’s say it with me. Micro-USB on top.  Hopefully, I will never need to connect to any peripherals, but companies should be putting the Micro-USB on bottom. This is my opinion, and some probably won’t care. The back case is a little hard to open which means you should invest in a 64GB card (highest to my knowledge of support), and keep it in there. The handwriting recognition leaves some to be desired, but this could be due to my poor penmanship exasperated by trying to use my finger.

There is a 2 year ADP warranty available for $50. With the price of the tablet being $85, this could be a big over-run cost. Also, keep in mind that buying this tablet isn’t a complete solution for productivity. There is also a need for a micro-SD card, keyboard, stand, mouse, sleeve, and the warranty. This could easily push the PC to more than $200 (although one could buy in pieces). HP could have thrown the 2 year ADP in with the tablet.

My Impression

Initial impression is good. It is not a power house, nor should one expect it to be. The Mail client, people client, and the fact that some basic apps pushes you to the non-tablet friendly desktop leaves a lot to be desired, but this is more of an issue with the OS rather than the hardware. Will this replace a higher end machine for my needs – no. However, if and when the notebook I am composing this review on fails me, I won’t feel as much of a need to buy a notebook, and might be able to look into a desktop if small, and reasonable enough.

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