Small notebooks like HP Stream 11 (K2L95UA#ABA) are undoubtedly the latest fashion in laptop world. They’re lightweight, fast and simple to use devices that are also cheap as dirt. The combination of Windows 8 and solid-state drive should make them operate quickly, usually beating the speed of older laptops with flying colors. Well, if new subnotebooks are so great, why would anybody want a conventional one anymore? Let’s find out if these little laptops are almighty or do they perhaps lack in something.
What comes to hardware, these subnotebooks usually offer entry level performance. Indeed, this HP Stream features a dual-core Intel Celeron N2840 processor that’s slower than regular Core i3 CPUs. It has 2.2GHz clock speed with 2.6GHz turbo, and could be describes as home user friendly processor. It’s really not powerful enough for demanding work, but it’s still a logical choice for this laptop because HP Stream wasn’t intended for power users in the first place.
HP Stream 11 (K2L95UA#ABA) has 2GB RAM, just fine amount for some browsing and other lightweight stuff, but for those who like to multitask and keep many browser tabs open, four gigabytes would definitely help. Sadly, the RAM is so called on-board memory and can’t be expanded, so you have to settle for the default 2GB.
These subnotebooks usually have small but fast drives. Indeed, this model sports an eMMC drive, which should allow for booting times around five seconds. The drive itself offers 32GB space, just a little bit of storage, but I’ve heard you can get free 1TB from Microsoft’s cloud for one year if you subscribe to Office 365. And of course, the storage can further be extended with an SD memory card or external USB hard drive.
Operating system is unsurprisingly Windows 8.1 (64-bit). That might not please everybody, especially because the display is a non-touch version.
How about screen and graphics?
HP Stream 11 (K2L95UA#ABA) features 11.6″ non-touch screen with 1366×768 resolution. For graphics, you’ll get Intel HD Graphics (Bay Trail), one of the worst modern graphics engines, which wouldn’t run latest games at all. That being said, subnotebooks weren’t intended for playing fancy graphics heavy games (think about Battlefields, Thief) so again, such a low-key graphics card is logical choice for this laptop. Older games, like Minecraft and World or Warcraft would run on it, especially if you can sacrifice settings a bit.
This laptop comes with 2 USB ports, one being USB 3.0. Not a lot, but at least sufficient for mouse and another peripheral. A full size HDMI output is also available, meaning that you can plug the notebook in to a HDTV if you don’t enjoy its small display.
Subnotebooks rely heavily on Internet, more precisely on wireless networks. HP Stream 11 (K2L95UA#ABA) features a single-band 802.11 b/g/n WiFi with Bluetooth 4.0 support. As it is, there’s no RJ-45 port available for wired connection.
With the SD media card reader, you can transfer data from devices such as digital cameras. However, media card might not be your favorite format, in which case you’d probably like to use a DVD. But to disappoint you, this model doesn’t come with an optical drive. If you want to use CDs and DVDs on it, you must get external optical drive.
There’s a front-facing HD webcam and microphone installed on top of the screen, so Skype video sessions are possible on this laptop.
Some other things to keep in mind?
One of the best things about HP Stream 11 (K2L95UA#ABA) is the portability. It weighs 2.8 pounds, which makes it convenient to carry. There are not lots of moving parts since the storage solution is an SDD rather than a mechanical hard drive. Furthermore, the system sports a fanless design. As such, the laptop should be rather durable in use.
The 8.25 hours battery life also adds to the fact the laptop was made with on-the-go people in mind. Getting over 8 hours should indeed be possible on this HP, but only on lightweight use like browsing. For gaming and other heavier activities, the battery life naturally drops.
The system comes with Office 365 subscription for one year, which also allows for free cloud storage as noted above. In addition, a 6-month subscription for McAfee LiveSafe is included.
Summing it up
HP Stream 11 (K2L95UA#ABA) is a typical subnotebook: lightweight, runs silent yet cool and depends on the cloud storage to an extent. Performance-wise, it’s fine for everyday stuff, be it web browsing, video streaming or Skype sessions. Due to lack of RAM and real graphics card gamers and power users shouldn’t bother. Instead, home users and students that don’t require lots of performance and big screen, but rather want a portable and very affordable laptop should probably take a closer look at this HP Stream. In my opinion, for 200 bucks it’s quite a steal.