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New 14-inch laptop does carry some compromises, but overall appears a promising value

Germany's Mobile Geeks has leaked the spec sheet of an intriguing new 14-inch laptop from Hewlett-Packard Comp. (HPQ), dubbed the "HP Stream Notebook PC".  The new laptop is priced at $199 USD and is one of the new Windows 8.1 laptops in Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) push to counter the growing success of low-cost Chromebooks, laptops powered by Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Linux-based Chrome OS.

The new HP laptop carries some of the compromises you'd expect at this sort of price point.  Its 14-inch panel is non-touch and its resolution -- 1,366 x 768 pixels -- is nothing to write home about.  Another annoyance is the lack of upgradeable memory.  The onboard memory (DDR3L-1333 MHz) is soldered to the motherboard and non-upgradeable.  At maximum you can get 2 GB, but in the base ($199 USD) model you get some unknown lesser amount -- possibly 1 GB.  

Storage space is also rather paltry.  In terms of internal storage, the cheaper model also only carries 32 GB of NAND (via an eMMC drive).  An upgrade to 64 GB of internal flash storage is offered.  Storage may not be a major detraction, though as an SD-card reader provides ample room for external storage and Microsoft is offering 100 GB of free cloud storage via its OneDrive service.

HP Stream Notebook
[Image Source:]

A key question in terms of the new laptop's value is how the onboard Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD) Fusion accelerated processing unit (APU), the A4 Micro-6400T, will perform.  The chip onbard is a member of the Mullins family (28 nm) and has a 4.5 watts TDP.  It packs four cores clocked 1.0 (standard)/1.6 GHz (turbo).  Its performance will be gauged primarily against chips commonly found in Chromebooks at this price point -- namely, ARM Holdings plc (LON:ARM) family designs or Intel Corp. (INTC) Atom chips.  

The AMD chip carries an on-die R3 GPU with 128 unified shader processors (SPs) clocked at up to 350 MHz (when in Turbo mode).  Most ARM-based Chromebooks use a PowerVR GPU from the Imagination Technologies Group plc (LON:IMG) or in the case of Qualcomm, Inc. (QCOM) chips, an Adreno GPU.  As for x86 Chromebooks, most now carry Intel HD graphics, which are found in the Bay Trail family of chips.  All of these rival architectures have seen substantial improvements on the GPU front, so an AMD win is not a foregone conclusion, but it would also not be surprising given AMD's past success on the low-end.

Otherwise the spec is respectable, with a multi-touch gesture-capable touch pad, 4-speaker Beats sound, Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11n (no 802.11ac, sorry), and ample ports (HDMI, 1x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0).

Will this Windows device be a Chromebook killer?  That's hard to say, but it's certainly an intriguing design with a relatively good spec for such a bargain bin price.

As one of the more popular Chromebook OEMs, HP clearly knows a thing or two about budget designs.  Even fully loaded the price should be at or a bit below the similar HP Slatebook 14 Android laptop (not a Chromebook), which was announced in June.  The Slatebook is priced at $430 USD and includes a 64 GB NAND storage drive, 2 GB of DDR3L, and a Tegra 4 processor from NVIDIA Corp.
HP Slatebook
HP Slatebook 14 

With that said, some readers may have trouble getting past the inclusion of Windows 8.1, even with Microsoft's improvements to mouse-and-keyboard controls.

Sources: Mobile Geeks [German], via Neowin

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By Flunk on 8/18/2014 4:35:40 PM , Rating: 3
I can see this selling, other than the RAM it's pretty close in spec to the Sandy Bridge i3 notebook I bought my mother 2 years ago. She's still extremely happy with it so I can't imagine that a lot of people who aren't particularly in to computers would love a cheap little HP notebook like this.

RE: Maybe
By KC7SWH on 8/18/2014 4:50:05 PM , Rating: 2
Great for those people that want a laptop to check email and surf the web.

RE: Maybe
By Argon18 on 8/18/14, Rating: -1
RE: Maybe
By jnemesh on 8/18/14, Rating: -1
RE: Maybe
By amanojaku on 8/18/2014 7:56:08 PM , Rating: 3
What the hell are you guys talking about? Argon is clearly trolling, but how can you say a Chromebook is a better option when it doesn't even have any software? At least this thing can run the same x86 apps as my desktop. Hell, I'm thinking about buying one just because I can code on it!

RE: Maybe
By Reclaimer77 on 8/19/2014 10:08:05 AM , Rating: 2
Argon is a pure Microsoft hater. He would probably claim a Sega Dreamcast to be a better PC than any Windows machine.

However he, and the poster below, DID specify basic computing as in surfing and email. Not coding or running X86 software.

So in the highly biased way they couched their arguments, I think it can be reasonably said that a Chromebook at this pricepoint is a better deal for "basic" tasks like web and email.

Also this thing doesn't even have a touchscreen, which to me is a dealbreaker as the entire POINT of "Metro" on mobile devices was the touch-centric UI.

RE: Maybe
By amanojaku on 8/19/2014 12:12:49 PM , Rating: 4
Argon is a pure Microsoft hater. He would probably claim a Sega Dreamcast to be a better PC than any Windows machine.

I get what they were saying, and I still disagree that a Chromebook is better than a Windows laptop. The Achilles' heel is Chrome OS. Why would I trade the extensive Windows library in for Chrome OS? And for web and mail, a 2GiB Windows machine is just as capable as Chrome OS. My mom's computer has 2GiB for Windows 7 64-bit, and I never complain when I use it to check the web, Youtube, etc...

Chrome OS never should have existed. Google should roll the web app features into Android, which already has an extensive software library. Even Apple figured that out. OS X never had much of a software library, so it allowed OS X to run iOS apps.

RE: Maybe
By Reclaimer77 on 8/19/2014 12:33:38 PM , Rating: 1
Well I'm not saying that a Chromebook is better than a Windows laptop as a macro statement. I'm not sure if they are either.

I am saying though, that a Chromebook might be a better option than THIS Windows laptop featured in the article. But only for very general and simple tasks.

My biggest gripe is the lack of a touch-screen monitor. The one area where you would actually WANT that is a Windows 8 mobile device, and it's missing.

RE: Maybe
By Da W on 8/19/14, Rating: 0
RE: Maybe
By Jeffk464 on 8/18/2014 5:15:49 PM , Rating: 2
Thats what a chromebook is for.

RE: Maybe
By Jeffk464 on 8/18/2014 5:19:03 PM , Rating: 1
is one of the new Windows 8.1 laptops in Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) push to counter the growing success of low-cost Chromebooks

I think MS missed the point cost is not the only reason to get a chromebook. Some people just want a super simple internet device. The fact is running windows is to much of a pain for some people.

RE: Maybe
By venym76 on 8/18/2014 5:40:44 PM , Rating: 3
Please explain to me how clicking an icon to open a browser on a chromebook vs clicking an icon on a windows machine to open a browser any different? What is so "painful" about doing that on windows vs chromeOS?

RE: Maybe
By Solandri on 8/18/14, Rating: -1
RE: Maybe
By jimbo2779 on 8/18/2014 6:25:31 PM , Rating: 5
Except these will most likely be running windows 8 with Bing which costs exactly nothing. As device makers pay MS royalties on their patents for android and chromeOS machines this new generation of windows machines will be more than price competitive.

So that takes care of that argument, again why is clicking the browser icon in windows so much harder than in chrome?

RE: Maybe
By Reclaimer77 on 8/19/2014 10:23:09 AM , Rating: 2
lol yeah lets pretend that all that's involved in running Windows is just "clicking browsers"...

RE: Maybe
By drew00149 on 8/18/2014 6:32:55 PM , Rating: 1
What does the cost of a license have to do with anything?

The question was: functionally, what is more difficult about launching a browser in one OS vs the other.

Are you attempting to assert that the cost of the license means this is running lower spec/lower quality hardware than an equivalently priced chromebook?

RE: Maybe
By inighthawki on 8/18/2014 6:55:54 PM , Rating: 1
He was implying that the cost of the license forces them to use lower grade hardware, thus the $200 chromebook would have $200 worth of hardware, but the Windows laptop would only have $100 worth of hardware.

However this completely falls apart when he realizes that an OEM license for Windows does not cost nearly that much, plus they can get Windows with Bing for free... So moot point.

RE: Maybe
By GotThumbs on 8/18/14, Rating: 0
RE: Maybe
By Gungel on 8/18/2014 10:30:06 PM , Rating: 2
Seriously now, I can't believe how many people drink that Google cool aid.

RE: Maybe
By tayb on 8/19/2014 8:51:41 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not. I've never seen so many Google fanboys congregate in a single location anywhere else on the internet. I have no idea why these people cling so strongly to a multi-billion dollar corporation that exists solely to mine their for profit. It's amazing.

RE: Maybe
By Reclaimer77 on 8/19/14, Rating: 0
RE: Maybe
By teldar on 8/18/2014 10:43:46 PM , Rating: 2
Re: Drivers in windows. When you have a system designed by a major OEM, they understand how to strip down some of the unnecessary items in an install. I think you would see a slightly slimmer version of win8.1 here than a full install with a full legacy driver base. Just a guess though.

As for Windows needing ram... can't argue with you there. I'm starting to advocate 16GB ram in a windows machine and would recommend nothing less than 8.

What I would see this as is a replacement for my wife's, now daughter's, ASUS netbook I paid $400+ for like 4 years ago. Single core Pine View Atom processor is quite laggy. I'd be interested in seeing if this thing is any faster.

RE: Maybe
By silverblue on 8/19/2014 2:39:44 AM , Rating: 2
Doesn't Windows 8.1 use less RAM than 7 and Vista? 1GB is really pushing it but 2GB isn't so bad. I'm concerned about the speed of the eMMC, though - it'd be best not to have to fall back to it for intensive pagefile use.

The real saving grace here is the fact it's an APU with an aggressive turbo mode.

RE: Maybe
By StevoLincolnite on 8/19/2014 4:16:40 AM , Rating: 2
Indeed Windows 8.1 does use less Ram than Windows 7, who in turn used less Ram than Vista.

2Gb is more than adequate in Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, provided the machine is going to be doing non-paging intensive work, I.E. Web browsing and Email.

8Gb and 16Gb is the recommended amount for any gaming machine or if your grandmother has over 9,000 tabs open in Firefox all with a flash heavy xxx strip poker game.

The bonus of Windows in the end is simply it's incredible multi-tasking power that really, no touch-centric OS/Interface can actually ever hope to match.

RE: Maybe
By FITCamaro on 8/19/2014 8:08:38 AM , Rating: 2
2GB RAM in Vista really sucks. Even just for web browsing.

RE: Maybe
By nikon133 on 8/19/2014 12:39:53 AM , Rating: 3
Um, no.

I'm running Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2, which has comparable specs - 2GB RAM, 64GB flash, 720p screen - but only 2C Atom CPU.

Device is using built-in Windows Defender AV which is fully transparent - if I didn't bother to check it is there, I wouldn't even know.

Updates are happening in the background, and yes, once in a while machine will ask me to restart it. Hardly a deal breaker. I didn't manually update drivers since purchase, I don't know if any driver update came through with rest of Windows updates, but system is as stable as it was the day one. I don't know how many Windows updates am I receiving, but why should I care - they happen in he background, I am not being interrupted.

I have handful of x86 apps installed, Office included. I also use tablet to access my home server files and, on occasion, I print and scan from and to tablet. Scanner is wifi device, laser printer is just small USB printer plugged to my home server. Which is actually just an old P4 XP machine running 24/7 in my study.

This lappy would provide me with all that functionality for fraction of tablet's price. No touch screen, but that's fine - I have no problem using 8.1 on my desktop PC which is also touchless. Chromebook wouldn't come even close in terms of functionality. For the same price.

IMHO, it is hardly a competition at all.

RE: Maybe
By domboy on 8/19/2014 8:29:02 AM , Rating: 2
Look to the windows updates on your own 8.1 system. The number of individual patches and updates can be overwhelming in Windows.

Windows RT would be the only way I can see this setup working.

Windows RT gets most of the same updates as Windows 8. Unless you've got Windows update set to manual download and install it's probably set to happen in the background. I don't think that's much of an argument.

I haven't used ChromeOS myself, but are you implying it never gets any sort of patches or updates? I really doubt that... and if it's true than that's not good from a security standpoint. Google's code is probably no more bullet proof than Microsoft's.

RE: Maybe
By Jeffk464 on 8/19/2014 9:54:06 AM , Rating: 2
Windows is the number one target of cyber criminals and chromeOS is immune to windows viruses. That alone makes it safer in the same way a Mac is safer.

RE: Maybe
By ritualm on 8/22/2014 12:46:23 PM , Rating: 2
Windows is the number one target of cyber criminals and chromeOS is immune to windows viruses. That alone makes it safer in the same way a Mac is safer.

A lot of food in China can easily make a visitor vomit and succumb to chronic diarrhea. The locals are used to it being crap. For the visitors? They better stick with McDonald's.

Taking that analogy to computer viruses, and I'd dare say you're in the wrong. Windows is safer by the virtue of being more vulnerable to cyberattacks. OS X and Chrome? There are several major 0-day exploits against them and none of them are ever fixed. Remember that Pwn2Own contest many moons ago? OS X lost immediately after the event officially kicked off.

If my digital life is really that important, I'm not putting it all on either OS X or Chrome. Windows has more viruses? Bring it.

RE: Maybe
By Jeffk464 on 8/19/2014 12:47:41 AM , Rating: 1
Ive never had a windows machine that I haven't had to mess around with drivers and the control panel. Also if you are going to run windows you need to keep an eye on windows security news sites to make sure you are safe.

RE: Maybe
By StevoLincolnite on 8/19/2014 4:18:12 AM , Rating: 3
You're doing it wrong.

And NO. - You do NOT need to keep an eye on security sites to make sure you're safe.

You just need to use common fricken' sense!

RE: Maybe
By MikeMurphy on 8/19/2014 6:01:33 PM , Rating: 2
Great for email. Likely not-so-great for browsing the web.

The 1ghz Mullins APU, limited RAM and the obligatory HP bloatware will ruin this device. Nice form factor, though.

RE: Maybe
By NellyFromMA on 8/19/2014 7:40:24 AM , Rating: 2
For the price, its an ok piece of kit.

Personally, I stopped being interested as soon as I read 2GB of RAM, non upgradeable.

Still, there is clearly a market for low-end low-price devices.

I doubt it would have really broke the bank on bill-of-materials to just include 2GB extra though.

RE: Maybe
By nikon133 on 8/19/2014 5:35:41 PM , Rating: 2
With 4GB of RAM, it would be viable laptop for majority of casual customers, maybe even quite a few professionals. Limitation is artificial, but obviously created to limit machine like this to bite too much into mainstream laptop sales.

RE: Maybe
By FITCamaro on 8/19/2014 8:07:55 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah I see the RAM as the biggest problem. If it had 4GB it would be perfect. With 2GB you're definitely memory constrained in what you can do. Windows 7 and 8 will run ok with 2GB of RAM, but you really need 4GB.

RE: Maybe
By nikon133 on 8/19/2014 5:30:43 PM , Rating: 2
True. On 2GB ThinkPad Tablet 2, I can run single (or even two) Office app reasonably well, but any enthusiastic attempt on multitasking will bottleneck. 2C Atom doesn't help either - this machine with it's 4C should at least reduce this penalty.

But hey - it is what it is, and for the price it gives good chunk of "full" laptop functionality. Not my cup of tea, but I see some value in this proposition.

RE: Maybe
By Reclaimer77 on 8/19/2014 9:37:40 AM , Rating: 1
Why are you guys talking about the RAM so much?

The single biggest deal breaker is that this is a mobile device running Windows 8, WITHOUT a touch screen! Hello?

The entire point of Windows 8 was multi-touch input lol. A mobile device without multi-touch running Windows 8 has got to be the dumbest thing I've ever heard of.

RE: Maybe
By nikon133 on 8/19/2014 5:22:49 PM , Rating: 2
Wait what why?

Modern GUI is made for touch, but you can use W8.1 pretty much exclusively in desktop mode, like I use my old no-touch ThinkPad T410.

On basic machine like this, one can set it to boot to desktop and have majority if not all frequently used apps on taskbar. The only situation to access Modern is when you need to run obscure app that does not sit on taskbar by default... and that if you don't want to install one of alternative menu solutions.

While W7 menu is tighter than W8 APPS screen, I actually prefer W8 START screen to W7 menu favourites - which is how I see W8 START, basically.

Are you saying that this "handicap" is shadowing all the advantages of having real OS with real software catalogue for the price of hardwarised web browser that Chrome machines are? C'mon.

GTFO Google trolls
By corduroygt on 8/19/2014 8:47:32 AM , Rating: 2
An iPad, which is a toy, is more functional than a chromebook, so GTFO. Still I wouldn't buy AMD hardware, their CPU's are garbage.

RE: GTFO Google trolls
By Gungel on 8/29/2014 4:31:15 PM , Rating: 2
AMD's APU's graphics performance is much better compared to Intel's Atom and even beats it in single- and multi-threaded benchmarks.

RE: GTFO Google trolls
By Gungel on 8/29/2014 4:33:00 PM , Rating: 2
If you're interest here is a test report from Anandtech:

By datdamonfoo on 8/18/2014 6:50:37 PM , Rating: 3
If this really does come out at 200, I'll get one for my girlfriend as her Asus Netbook is aging.

By TheJian on 8/19/2014 7:33:59 AM , Rating: 1
I don't understand how you can say it packs a punch, when there is no idea what the punch actually is. And 1-2GB in end of 2014? Please...Should at least be 2 or 4GB. For $80 more you get K1 in a 13in acer. What punch? They give you a glass of Hawaiian punch with it? LOL.

I wish manufacturers would quit shoving devs into such tiny memory holes. You won't start getting better apps with more functionality until they start giving them a LOT more room to work with. The cost difference is so small it's really kind of pointless to sell anything under 2GB IMHO and the faster that goes to 4GB+ the better. I'm waiting for 4GB and androidL with 20nm socs. Until then I have no need for these things. My dad's nexus 10 has taught me to just wait for better stuff for a while. GPU is now there (K1), we're nearing 4GB phones (thus tablets across the board too), and 20nm just around the block with AndroidL/64bit Nov. I'll wait ;) No need for something I'll hate less than 6 months later when it seems EVERYTHING I want is about Q1/Q2 next year.

The nexus 10 was good for my dad's purposes (stroke victim, one handed) but for me it was pretty useless especially at 10in for training vids etc. Too small to really see what is going on. I'll need a 13 or probably larger for training vids and a great gpu to output android games to TV. A 20nm NV (denver+maxwell probably) should have no trouble covering that for me. If someone else can catch NV's gpus, maybe by then maybe I'll go with someone else at 20nm, but right now I'm leaning NV as they are the only ones paying much attention to gaming (porting already, tegrazone etc, and gaming is my #1 or #2 objective when off the PC itself).

By fteoath64 on 8/20/2014 5:42:15 AM , Rating: 2
Well said. Anything running Win8.1 will not pack a punch unless it is the top-end cpu and gpu inside!. While AMD might have found some sort of balance on the low-end of Win8 without being like a netbook, it still is on the low-end side. As such mid-end Android tablets will kick it for performance n-times over and capable of many more games than this AMD machine.
Yeah Denver K1 or Maxwell 1 SoC will be the one to watch for while Intel tries harder to slot into this TDP range by cranking frequencies way down. Their performance sucks big time compared to the Android chips.Who know ?. The popularity of this AMD machine might give them chance to tweak their SoC to handle Win8 low-end at a much more respectable performance state than it is. Note: 350Mhz is very low for a gpu as Android phone chips already clocked their gpy close to 500Mhz!.

By zodiacfml on 8/19/2014 4:35:38 AM , Rating: 2
1GB and 2GB memory? That is baffling unless this will use 32bit Windows 8.1. I think the consumer is better off with a tablet than this.

Asking for advice
By Gunbuster on 8/19/2014 9:03:10 AM , Rating: 2
Woo hoo, now instead of friends asking what device to get and getting the advice of a Surface Pro 3 they will go to best buy and get this POS. Of course they were going to buy the $399 HP race to the bottom laptop before so the equation is essentially the same.

Perfect for My Enterprise
By Arsynic on 8/19/2014 10:08:04 AM , Rating: 2
We were testing out Chromebooks as low cost alternatives to run our VDI environment. However, our VDI vendor doesn't have a plug-in for chrome and we have to install expensive infrastructure to support this.

By SDBud on 8/18/14, Rating: 0
By peterrushkin on 8/18/14, Rating: 0
"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke

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