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HP Stream 14 review: This laptop's best feature is its rock-bottom price

HP once again shows a Windows laptop for email and online apps can be attractive and inexpensive.

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Joshua Goldman
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Joshua Goldman

Senior Editor / Reviews

Joshua Goldman is a senior editor for CNET Reviews, covering laptops and the occasional action cam or drone and related accessories. He has been writing about and reviewing consumer technology and software since 2000.

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A low price on a laptop can make up for a lot of shortcomings. That is, as long as those shortcomings don't interfere with you getting stuff done.

hp-stream-14-14.jpg
7.1

HP Stream 14

The Good

The inexpensive HP Stream 14 is an attractive, lightweight 14-inch Windows laptop with a long battery life and performance good enough for basic productivity and streaming media. Plenty of expansion ports. Includes 1TB of OneDrive cloud storage and Office 365 Personal for one year.

The Bad

Paltry on-board storage capacity. The screen quality isn't good and the keyboard as well as the touchpad are merely passable.

The Bottom Line

With the Stream 14, HP once again shows that a Windows laptop for email and online apps can be attractive and inexpensive.

The 14-inch HP Stream, for example, is only $220 in the US and £200 in the UK. As long as your needs don't leap too far beyond watching YouTube clips, sending email and using web apps, you're golden. (HP doesn't offer the Stream in a 14-inch size in Australia, but there is the HP 14-am034tu for AU$500, which is similarly configured, but with a 500GB hard drive instead of a 32GB eMMC.)

HP Stream 14 (14-ax010nr)

Price as reviewed $220, £200
Display size/resolution 14-inch 1,366x768 display
PC CPU 1.6GHz Intel Celeron N3060
PC Memory 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 400 (128MB)
Storage 32GB eMMC storage
Networking 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0 
Operating system Window 10 Home (64-bit)
Expansion One USB 2.0 port, Two USB 3.0/3.1 ports, SD card slot, mic/headphone jack, HDMI out

The 14-inch body is thin and it's light at about 3 pounds (1.4 kg), but if you were hoping for something smaller, HP makes an 11.6-inch Stream for $20 less. It has the same internal components as the 14, but has one less USB 3.1 port and a microSD card slot instead of the 14's full-size slot.

The Stream is a nice-looking laptop, too, assuming you're cool with the bright blue color. It's all plastic with ridges on the lid that give it texture and added grip. The blue continues inside except for the bright white keyboard.

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Plenty of ports for peripherals.

Sarah Tew/CNET

With its meager 32GB of storage -- only about half of which is available to use -- it's nice HP didn't skimp on expansion options. An SD card fits almost entirely in the slot, too, so you could easily leave a card in there for files and applications.

You can, of course, use those ports for a keyboard and mouse to avoid the laptop's touchpad and keyboard. The latter isn't altogether unpleasant, but there's very little travel and the keys feel thin and flimsy like they might pop off or stop working if you type too hard. The touchpad is generally OK, but I recommend shutting off most of the multitouch options like pinch-to-zoom and turning up the palm rejection setting.

If you're hooking up a keyboard and mouse, though, you might as well connect a monitor as well. The laptop's screen looks washed out, colors are off and I found myself constantly adjusting the angle in a futile attempt to make it look better. You know what worked? Outputting to a full HD display via HDMI.

As for its stereo speakers, I'll just say there's a headphone jack and Bluetooth 4.0 for a reason and leave it at that.

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The touchpad is OK, but turn off a few of its features for optimal performance.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Stream's advantage over similarly priced and configured Chromebooks is that it's running on Windows 10, so you're not locked into Google's web-based OS. You can install software like Apple's iTunes, Microsoft's Office or Minecraft. The same goes for hardware drivers for mice, keyboards and printers. Oh, and you can use Microsoft's Edge browser or install whatever other browser you want to use including Chrome.

That's not to say you can install and run any Windows software you want on it. It simply doesn't have the processor power or memory to drive anything too demanding. It even struggled with Chrome once it had a half a dozen tabs open (Edge performance was better, though).

While the performance might not blow you away, the battery life is impressive: The Stream 14 ran for 8 hours on our online streaming test. For more simple tasks like word processing, you should be able to hit more than 9 hours.

With the Stream 14, HP once again shows that a Windows laptop for email and online apps can be attractive and inexpensive. It has its issues, but it's $220 and that's hard to argue with.

Multitasking Multimedia Test 3.0 (in seconds)

Lenovo ThinkPad 13 666Samsung Galaxy TabPro S 856Microsoft Surface 3 1585HP Stream 14 3134HP Stream 11 4756
Note: Shorter bars indicates better performance

Geekbench 3 Multi-Core

Lenovo ThinkPad 13 5192Samsung Galaxy TabPro S 4722Microsoft Surface 3 3432HP Stream 14 1833HP Stream 11 1610
Note: Shorter bars indicates better performance

Online Streaming Battery Drain test (in minutes)

Samsung Galaxy TabPro S 563HP Stream 14 476HP Stream 11 403Microsoft Surface 3 402Lenovo ThinkPad 13 388
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

System Configurations

HP Stream 14 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 1.6GHz Intel Celeron N3060; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 128MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics 400; 32GB eMMC storage
HP Stream 11 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 1.6GHz Intel Celeron N3050; 2GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 144MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics; 32GB SSD
Lenovo ThinkPad 13 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.3GHz Intel Core i3-6100U; 4GB DDR4 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 128MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics 520; 128GB SSD
Samsung Galaxy TabPro S Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 0.90GHz Intel m3-6Y30; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 128MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics 515; 128GB SSD
Microsoft Surface 3 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 1.6GHz Intel Atom Z8700; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 32MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics; 128GB SSD
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7.1

HP Stream 14

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 6Performance 7Battery 8