Showing posts with label HP Stream. Show all posts
Showing posts with label HP Stream. Show all posts

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

HP UK release the N4000 Stream 11 & HP Stream 14

HP UK now sells the Celeron N4000 Stream 11. Oddly, HP UK decided to release the laptop with 2GB RAM. This isn't a Europe wide decision, as HP Germany sell the 4GB RAM version. The 4GB version was released in North America months ago.

HP UK also decided to price the laptop similar to the Lenovo S130 and ASUS VivoBook E203. The pricing makes no sense as both the Lenovo S130 and ASUS VivoBook E203 are devices with twice the RAM.

They've also released the N4000 HP Stream 14. It is a positive, in my view, that HP decided to give the latest iteration of the Stream 14 an anti-glare display. Pricing has also slightly increased as the storage has been doubled to 64GB.

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

HP updates the Stream series in North America

I noticed that HP updated their Stream series with the Intel N4000 processor. Both versions - 11.6 inches and 14 inches - remain broadly the same. The main changes are in the processor and a bump in battery life. The devices are also offered with Microsoft Office 365 Personal one-year subscriptions. So far, it appears, the updated laptops are only available in North America (US and Canada). In the UK, the main retailers still sell the N3060 versions and the HP Stream 11.6 is also only available with 2GB RAM.

HP need to update the HP Stream series

As stated in the previous post, ASUS recently updated some of their budget laptops with Intel Gemini Lake processors. Similarly, Acer has updated the Aspire 1 series with the Gemini Lake N4000 Celeron processor. HP, so far, haven't refreshed the budget HP Stream series. There are two categories to the HP Stream series:
  1. A general consumer category powered by the HP Braswell N3060 processor. This category consists of laptops in two screen sizes - 11.6 inches and 14 inches. In the UK, the 11.6 version is only available with 2GB RAM. There is also a 11.6 inches HP Stream x360 - a touch convertible laptop with similar specifications to the conventional Stream 11 and 14. 
  2.  An education targeted model - the HP Stream 11 Pro G4 - that runs a stronger quad-core Apollo Lake (N3450). 
The current generation of HP Stream's consumer laptops were released late 2016, so they are due an update. If HP decides to keep the Stream laptops beyond education, then we might see the HP Stream 11 and 14 refreshed with the N4000 processor. It would also give the Stream laptops a stand out if they were equipped with IPS screens. The current HP Stream 14's screen is terrible - the colours are washed out and with poor viewing angles.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Acer Aspire ES11 Review: A good entry-level laptop let-down by its sub-standard battery life

The Acer Aspire ES 11, compared to other Windows entry-level laptops, stands out with its standard 4 GB configuration; in comparison the HP Stream 11 is only available in the UK in its 2 GB version. If HP released the 4 GB version of the HP Stream 11 then it would be, in my opinion, the better option with its significantly better battery life. Yes, on paper, the Acer ES 11 comes with a slightly better Apollo Lake N3350 processor but the difference is negligible in real world use. After using Acer's ES 11 for some time below are my main impressions:
  • I was attracted to the Acer ES 11 due to its Apollo Lake N3350 processor (I was previously underwhelmed with the HP Stream 14's Celeron N3060). After using the processor in the Acer Aspire ES11, I found little difference between the the Apollo Lake N3350 and Celeron Braswell N3060. For a smoother user-experience the Braswell Celeron N3160, Apollo Lake Celeron N3450 and Apollo Lake Pentium N4200 perform significantly better (many budget laptops now run with quad core versions of these processors).  
  • Laptops in this category offer adequate performance for everyday computing but expect some slugishness. None of these laptops are recommend as a primary computing device, so it makes sense to primarily consider the smaller and more portable 11.6 models. The HP Stream 14, while relatively lightweight for its larger form factor, comes with a poor display and low DPI (to be fair, poor screen quality is a broader issue with laptops in general. Vendors tend to over-price their laptop hardware and it is common to even find mid-tier laptops with 1366 X 768 screens). Acer also sell a larger 13.3 inch Acer Aspire ES13 that weighs 1.7 KG with near identical specifications. Again, the extra weight and larger form factor are not suitable for the purposes of on-the-go mobile computing.    
  • Relative to other devices in this category, the Acer ES11 comes with a nice matte display and the pre-installed blue light shield software is one of the better implementations of the feature I've seen. 
  • Considering the importance of portability in this category the Aspire ES11's battery is some way behind similarly priced laptops. Acer tends to over-estimate battery life and the advertised 'up to 8 hours' is considerably off; with battery saver on and mixed use, the more accurate estimate would be closer to six hours. In comparison the HP Stream 14, that I used and tested, advertised a more accurate 'up to 10 hours' (the HP Stream 11 is advertised with an even longer 'up to 10 hours and 45 minutes').
Overall, the Acer ES 11 is a good choice for a portable secondary computing device. Another possibility is the Lenovo's 110S; the 110S comes in different configurations but the 4 GB version, that also comes with 64 GB storage (double the storage compared to the Acer ES11), goes beyond the £200 threshold. This raises the issue if a low powered mobile device is worth the extra cost. In other words, once going over the £200 threshold it might be better idea to go for a better and more powerful budget option that can be used, by many users, as a primary device e.g. the Asus VivoBook L403. Another issue to consider is that refurbished Acer ES11 units are widely available and can be found as low as £115.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

HP Stream 14 Review: A good value entry laptop let-down by a sub-par display

The HP Stream 11 and 14, late 2016 release, brought something different - the first entry-level laptops released with 4GB RAM. In the US, both the HP Stream 11 and 14 are available with with 4GB; in Europe, unfortunately, only the HP Stream 14 model is available with the extra RAM. The extra RAM that comes with the 2016 HP Stream 14 makes a significant difference when multi-tasking. Make no mistake, the N3060 Celeron Braswell is no power-horse and it would have been better to release this generation of Stream laptops with a Celeron Apollo-Lake processor. However, the Braswell processor offers good enough performance but with some stutter and lagging with more intensive tasks. For example, browsing web-pages with rich multimedia content – CNET being a case point – slows down browsing. I would recommend installing an effective ad blocker to deal with with advertisements/click-bait and automated video content. Further, internet performance is affected by the browser used – Firefox and Opera work better, in Microsoft Windows, in comparison to Google Chrome and, ironically, Microsoft Edge. Chrome works better in Linux than Firefox.

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.

Pros
  • 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

Cons

  • 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

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

HP introduces a stand-out entry-level laptop

HP released the 2016 update to its entry-level laptop series (HP Stream series). Finally, HP introduced the right specifications that makes this device - on paper - a stand-out choice for the entry-level category. With a slightly bumped up processor (Intel Celeron N3060) and more importantly 4GB RAM, the user should get a significant performance enhancement. I never thought 2GB RAM was the right compromise, even for this category. It is understandable to go for a mobile class processor, considering the use-case scenario, but RAM should be sufficient to allow for adequate multi-tasking and a richer web browsing experience. Surprisingly, the device’s retail price remains the same with the RAM upgrade. It will be interesting to see how DELL, Asus, Acer and Lenovo respond with their own entry laptops.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Entry level Windows laptop recommendation - Lenovo Ideapad 100S

As part of a series on entry-level devices, this posts recommends an entry Windows laptop. With laptops in this category we are looking at a secondary device that is a light-weight travel companion and performs the expected basic computing tasks well. Generally, devices in this category come with standardised storage and memory (32 GB storage and 2 GB RAM), with differences being in the processor. Regarding the processor, choices tend to be between an Intel Celeron Braswell or one of the different variations of Intel Atom.

I found the Lenovo Ideapad 100S, surprisingly, the best of the current crop. On paper, it is powered by a weaker Bay Trail Z3735F Atom processor but performance is optimised with a 32 Bit version of Windows 10. The same or similar processor performs worse with, mainly, Windows tablets and the reason could be vendors deliberately throttling/under clocking the processor to prevent over-heating. However, compared to other laptops in this category the Ideapad's performance is noticeably better in rendering webpages. Comparison, in this case, is being made to laptops released by HP (HP Stream 11 and 13), Dell (Dell Inspiron 11 3000) and Acer (Acer Aspire One Cloudbook) with an Intel N3050 Braswell processor. On paper the CPU benchmark, and in Google's Octane scores, state the N3050 performs slightly better than the Atom Bay Trail Z3735F. However, in real world performance, the difference is felt in favour of the Ideapad 100S. Another factor behind the performance boost might be the quad core processor, compared to the dual core processor that comes with the Intel Celeron Braswell. Out of the box the HP Stream 11, which I have tested, can struggle with rendering news and media websites, and even with an ad-blocker set-up it is still a step behind Lenovo's offering.

The battery life is good and can reach, in saving mode, and with brightness turned down, close to the advertised eight hours. The display is adequate but the HP Stream 11 is slightly superior, with better contrast and colour reproduction. A nice feature is the laptop's 180 degree hinge - this is useful when the laptop is placed on the lap or used lying down. The stand-out for the laptop is its weight, coming under 1 kilogram, which is superior to most entry-level laptops (the exceptions would be the Asus EeeBook X205TA and its successor the ASUS Vivobook E200HA). The portable weight makes the Ideapad 100S an ideal travel productivity device.

Unfortunately, there is a serious disadvantage with a trackpad that doesn't support multi-touch gestures. It is strange that Lenovo decided to go backwards with an outdated two buttons and no gesture support (I don't mind the buttons but the lack of gesture support is unnecessary, considering all laptops in this category support the feature). For some this may be a significant drawback - the out-dated trackpad, at first, slows the user down but after getting use to, it is serviceable. If the trackpad is unbearable then there is always the option to use an external mouse.

I don't think, at the moment, there is an entry-level Windows laptop that gets all its compromises right. The Lenovo Ideapad 100S is the closest if it wasn't for the strange decision not to support gestures with the trackpad. If Lenovo, in its annual refresh, beefs up the processor, improves the display and fixes the problem with the trackpad then we might get a stand-out candidate. Further, a nice option would be adding a version with 4GB RAM priced at £20 - £30 more.