HP Stream 7: My Initial Impressions of the now £79 Windows 8.1 Tablet

Posted on February 12, 2015 by Alan Walsh

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Could a PC under $100 be usable? Yep. Thanks to Windows 8.1

So today my HP Stream 7 arrived after ordering it last weekend. The box was a pretty small package to say the least with the tablet taking up almost the entire length and width of it. Inside the box is your plug, micro-USB to USB adapter (for the charging, the HP Stream doesn’t have a full USB port on it, only micro) plus all the leaflets that come with it. I ordered mine from the Microsoft Store Ireland meaning it was a Signature Edition. That ultimately means there’s no annoying crapware pre-installed. This is a clean version of Windows. Speaking of Windows, this comes with ‘Windows 8.1 with Bing’ which is something a lot of cheaper devices have been using as it’s cheaper for OEMs to ship this on their hardware then regular Windows 8.1. ‘Windows 8.1 with Bing’ isn’t really that much different to Windows 8.1. The biggest thing is that this is a compressed operating system meaning it uses less storage, plus OEMs must set the default search engine as Bing, the default web browser as Internet Explorer and the default home page as MSN. I think this a good thing. I really like this strategy.

Onto the hardware side of things and inside the HP Stream 7 is a 1.33GHz Intel Atom CPU Z3735G (it’s actually pretty fast) with 1GB of RAM and 32GB Internal Storage with about 23.5GB available to the user. It’s got a 7 inch 1280×800 touch screen with 5 main touch points. The battery claims to offer 8 hours of battery life and while I haven’t got to test this out thoroughly, I’ve had it on for about four hours since I got it and it hasn’t needed to be plugged in yet. There’s also a year of Office 365 Personal thrown in which is worth $69 on its own. Incredible value and is what pushed me pick up this tablet.

Set-up was quick and easy and the tablet booted up really quickly for its initial start-up. Once I logged into my Microsoft Account, I had the ability to have it set up like my Surface 2. My apps, settings, personalization and more. It’s a neat Windows 8.1 feature. My initial plan was to update this immediately to the Windows 10 January Technical Preview, but however, you can’t get Windows 10 on a compressed OS yet (unless you use an ISO which means you’re running uncompressed Windows, taking up too much storage). After I looked into this, I discovered the preview would be coming soon to ‘Windows 8.1 with Bing’ devices.

The display looks great. It’s crisp and sharp when browsing menus, reading the web and watching videos. Yes, you could watch a movie on this without issue and even all your favourite YouTube videos. I tested out playing some songs that I’ve in my cloud collection on Xbox Music and the speakers are pretty impressive. They seem a tiny bit quitter than on the Surface 2, but definitely suitable for a 7-inch tablet. YouTube videos also sounded great and performed well when playing in HD. This doesn’t feel like a cheap device at all and I’ve found it extremely quickly for loading applications (well ones from the Windows Store) and the tablet works great in either landscape or portrait mode which is something I haven’t felt on any Windows tablet until now. Normally landscape was the way to go but the HP Stream 7 is showing that portrait can also work very well. However, some things on the desktop don’t display properly in portrait mode but that isn’t a huge issue as I would mainly only use portrait mode in the Modern interface.

I also downloaded Asphalt 8 Airborne to my tablet which is one of my favourite Windows 8 racers. Performance and graphics were very impressive for a tablet using an Atom processor. There was zero lag and fps drops and the game felt really optimized for the HP Stream 7. I also drifted for 2,000 metres in my race (just saying). I’ll test our some more games going forward. Especially Xbox-enabled ones. I’ll also look into installing Steam just to see if there’s anything small I could also try on this.

All-in-all, the HP Stream 7 is proving to be an excellent tablet. The lack of a keyboard/mouse hasn’t been a huge issue so far but it’s noticeable not having it and while I haven’t tried yet, I don’t think I could use Office on this to do my work. I use my Surface for Office all the time because of the type-cover keyboard. I always look for both productivity as well an entertainment when looking at a device. After I spend more time with the device, I’ll give a full review. If there’s anything specific you want me to try out, let me know!

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