Sometimes you just need an affordable laptop that works. That’s where the HP Stream 11 comes in. It doesn’t boast any cutting-edge features or specs, but it’s a colorful and compact 11-inch Windows 10 laptop with an attractive $200 price tag. With great audio, a comfortable keyboard, and solid build quality this notebook is one of the standouts among the sea of sub-$200 laptops.
HP Stream Build and Design
Notebook Reviewwas pleasantly surprised by how well constructed the HP Stream 11 felt. Normally build quality is one of the areas that you expect to suffer somewhat with a budget device, but the HP Stream feels solid. There’s a little bit of give along the keyboard, but the chassis and the hinge hold up strong to pressure. This is a device that should hold to wears and tears of travel or the daily trip to the classroom.
Not only does the HP Stream 11 feel good to hold and use, but it looks good as well. The HP Stream 11 features a vibrant bright blue (also available in purple) chassis. NBR loved the bright vibrant colors. It’s a fun way to differentiate the laptop from its competitors and it makes it a great choice for consumers that want something a little different. The lid also has a nice textured feel with raised horizontal striations. The HP Stream 11 is rounded along its corners and the black circular HP logo contrasts beautifully against the vibrant bright backdrop.
Measuring 11.8 x 8.1 x 0.7-inches and weighing 2.5 pounds the Stream 11 is compact and easy to travel with. HP has managed to shed a considerable amount of weight it’s 2.74 pounds 2023 predecessor.
HP Stream Ports
For its small stature, the HP Stream surprisingly offers solid connectivity for a budget device. The left side of the device features a lock-slot, a USB 2.0 port, and a combo audio and microphone jack. The right side houses a power connector, a MicroSD slot, a USB 3.0 port, and a HDMI connector.
The full-sized HDMI connector is a nice addition and allows you to bypass one the device’s biggest weakness its display, while the expanded memory is a must given the lack of onboard storage.
HP Stream Screen and Speakers
There’s always an opportunity cost with a budget device and in the case of the HP Stream 11, it’s the display. The HP Stream houses an 11-inch 1368 x 768 resolution screen. The lower resolution does feel a bit archaic in 2023, but it is somewhat understandable given the sub $200 price point.
The panel does offer solid brightness at 188 nits, which isn’t that bad for a budget device. Unfortunately the screen sort of looks dimmer than it actually is because colors appear dull and washed out. This doesn’t make text pop as well it should. The HP Stream 11 also struggles with viewing angels, particularly vertical angles cause images to appear fully washed out. The notebook does fair better along horizontal angels, but picture quality still takes a serious hit past 45 degrees. The screen also struggles in direct or heavy lighting with noticeable reflections appearing on screen.
This sound rather doom and gloom, but it’s not all bad. The screen is still serviceable. It’s certainly not going to offer the best media viewing experience or a great panel for image editing, but it will suffice for word processing and web browsing just fine. In the context of the laptop’s price, the failings of the screen are a lot easier to forgive.
Where the screen disappoints the audio impresses. You don’t expect much from laptop audio typically, never mind a device that costs $200. While the speakers aren’t all that boisterous the quality is surprisingly clear. Of course, it’s not going to please the pickier audiophiles out there, but the HP Stream 11 did an excellent job capturing a few challenging classical tracks. Our team of editors was particularly impressed by how well the laptop captures the wide sweeping range of the violin in Duo Sonidos rendition ofHandel: Sonata No.4 in D Major III. Larghetto. In this instance, the HP Stream 11 is certainly punching well above its weight class.
HP Stream Keyboard and Touchpad
The HP Stream 11 also features a surprisingly solid keyboard. The durable chassis design means there’s little give on the keyboard. There’s a tiny bit of give towards the center of the keyboard, but it’s not enough to impede the flow of typing. The large white keys contrast nicely against the vibrant chassis. Excellent spacing and raised surface make the keys easy to strike. Key travel is a bit on the shallow side and feedback isn’t as powerful as we would have liked, but the feedback is consistent. It’s certainly not perfect, but it’s a lot better than you’d expect from a $200 laptop.
While the keyboard itself is great, the bottom edge of the chassis prove an annoyance for some users. The edge is rather sharp and if you’re someone who pushes their wrists down when typing it could be uncomfortable. The NBR team personally didn’t have any issues, but we could easily see others struggling with this.
The HP Stream 11 offers a moderately sized touchpad below the spacebar. The buttonless plastic pad is smooth and offers smooth travel. Sometimes the machine lags, which can make the pad feel a bit unwieldy, but normally it’s easy to select and highlight text without issue. The pad offers decent travel and clicks read consistently, multi-finger gestures were more finicky, but still worked most of the time.
HP Stream Performance
The HP Stream 11 review unit that we tested had the following specifications:
- Windows 10
- 11.6-inch HD 1366 x 768 resolution display
- 1.6GHz Intel Celeron N3060 CPU
- Intel HD Graphics 400
- 4GB RAM
- 32GB eMMC flash
- Bluetooth 4.0
- Dimensions: 11.8 x 8.1 x 0.7-inches
- Weight: 2.5 pounds
- Price: $200
Ultimately you get what you pay for. The HP Stream 11 certainly isn’t a powerhouse, but it offers solid performance for the price. The laptop features a 1.6Ghz Intel Celeron N3060 processor, with 4GB of RAM, Intel Graphics 400, and 32GB of eMMC flash storage. Not bad for the $200 price tag.
So what does this mean for real-world computing? It means you can expect the laptop to handle the basics without an issue. The machine had no issue with word processing, web browsing, and lightweight productivity work. However, the machine can easily become overwhelmed when multi-tasking. When running 5 active Google Chrome tabs with an HD video stream in the background the machine did stutter a few times. Most notably text input and the cursor would lag. The laptop still managed to keep chugging along, but if you tax the HP Stream 11 too much, expect some lag.
This is about what you’d expect from a laptop in this price range running an Intel Celeron N3060. In fact, the HP Stream broke 2,000 (scoring a total of 2,042) in our Geekbench 4 benchmark testing, making it slightly more powerful than other affordable notebooks running the same processor. The slight boost in benchmark scores honestly isn’t going to translate to a huge a real-life performance boost, but still, it’s nice to get the best performing affordable notebook if you can.
Of course, the biggest sacrifice is going to be the 32GB of onboard flash storage. Read and write speeds are solid. The notebook is quick to start up and programs load within a few seconds of opening them. Considering that the notebook is running on Windows 10 there isn’t a lot of room for programs. Luckily the HP Stream 11 does offer expandable memory. Additionally, HP is adding in a free year of Office 365 with purchase helping to offload a lot of the need for installed programs with Microsoft’s suite of online apps.
CrystalDiskMark storage drive performance test:
HP Stream Battery Life
If there’s one benefit to having weaker specs, it’s lower power consumption. In our test, the HP Stream 11 was able to run continuous Netflix video for 5 hours and 23 minutes before shutting down. That’s certainly impressive. With normal use, you can expect to get well over a full day of use on a single charge. The solid battery life and compact design make the HP Stream an excellent travel companion.
HP Stream Final Thoughts
The HP Stream 11 just works. That not seem like high praise, but it is at this price point. With a solid design, a great keyboard, reliable performance, and strong battery life this an affordable laptop that you can rely on. The screen leaves a bit to be desired, and the lack of onboard storage means that you’ll need to invest in expandable memory if you want to download applications. However, those are small issues at this price point. With affordable laptops, you always need to give up something, but it feels like you’re giving up very little with the HP Stream 11.
Of course, consumers are going to see noticeable performance gains if they’re willing to spend a few hundred dollars more, but it’s hard to do better at this price point.
- Great audio
- Solid performance
- Attractive design
- Decent battery life
- Washed out display
- Limited onboard storage
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