The display, in my opinion, is the device’s let-down. For this category, with an emphasis on portability, a matte display would have been a better choice (the HP Stream 14’s glossy screen is very reflective). The biggest problem with the screen, even in comparison to other entry-level laptops, is its poor viewing angles and washed out colours. The problem is accentuated with a relatively low pixel density in a 1366 x 768 resolution spread across a 14 inch display. The problem can be somewhat remedied through increasing both gamma and colour saturation through Intel graphics. The track-pad works well and scrolling is smooth but the track-pad is stiff when pressing. One plus with this laptop, consistent with the HP Stream range, is a very good keyboard. The keyboard, due to the larger laptop size, is near full size.
Another positive with the HP Stream 14 is that it works ‘out of the box’ with Linux Mint, Ubuntu and Elementary OS. I would recommend Linux Mint Cinnamon for its stability, user-friendly interface and resemblance to a Windows desktop environment. I also noticed a performance boost with Linux, in comparison to Windows; further, most Linux distributions run comfortably with 32GB storage. Battery is very good in Windows – closer to a maximum of 8 hours than the advertised up to 10 hours – but is further extended, with the right tweaks, in the Linux distributions I tried.
The HP Stream 14 is a good laptop and offers value in terms of hardware and a bundled Office 365 subscription. I like the larger screen that doesn’t compromise portability (the laptop’s 1.4 KG is relatively light-weight for its size). However, if you don’t need Office 365 and would prefer something more lightweight, compact and with a higher pixel density then the 11.6 inch Acer ES11 might be the better the option. The device similarly comes with the important 4GB of RAM but with a better processor (Intel Celeron Apollo-Lake N3350). The option of purchasing the Acer Aspire ES11 without an Office 365 subscription means it comes at a lower entry price compared to the larger HP Stream 14.
- Lightweight for a 14-inch laptop
- The extra RAM makes a significant difference
- Very good battery life
- One year Office 365 subscription
- Very good keyboard
- Works well with Linux
- The screen is sub-par, even for this category.
- The Braswell processor, despite the slight improvement from last year’s model, is still under-powered
- Iffy trackpad
Overall rating: 7/10