Stay productive on the go with this HP Stream 11-d001dx laptop, which features a high-speed wireless LAN for quick and easy Web access. The Intel® Celeron® processor delivers reliability for everyday mobile computing. Includes a $25 Microsoft Apps Store gift card, 1TB of Microsoft OneDrive storage for 1 year, 1 year of Office 365 personal and 60 minutes of Skype per month for 1 year
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I give HP serious style points for this clamshell, but it's not for everyone. The HP Stream 11 comes in a bold Horizon Blue color with a matte finish that wraps around the entire plastic chassis. Open the lid, and you'll find a stylish dot pattern that cascades from blue to indigo as you go from the top to the bottom of the deck. (HP also offers the Steam 11 with a magenta lid and a keyboard deck that goes from tulip purple to lily pink.) The aesthetic kind of reminds me of a snow cone: fun and playful. However, the bright white keyboard and thick bezel around the screen give the Stream 11 a kiddie laptop vibe.
The right side of this notebook houses a USB 3.0 port, a USB 2.0 port and an HDMI port, while an SD Card slot, headphone jack, power jack and lock slot line the left side.
The 11-inch display on the Stream 11 doesn't wow. The HD resolution (1366 x 768 pixels) is fine, but I didn't like that I had to tilt the display back 25 degrees to get the best picture. The horizontal viewing angles are a little more generous.
When watching the HD trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy, I could easily make out the intricate markings on Dave Bautista's mountain of a back, but the overall picture looked somewhat washed out.
Averaging 165 nits on our brightness test, the Stream 11's screen is dimmer than similarly sized Chromebooks. The Samsung Chromebook 2 hit 214 nits and the Lenovo N20p, 194 nits, while HP's Chromebook 11 registered 267 nits.
I didn't expect to hear great sound from the Stream 11, but the speakers (located underneath the front lip) pleasantly surprised. In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better-sounding laptop for such a cheap price. Arcade Fire's "Rebellion" filled my office at only 55 percent volume, and the breathy vocals and jangling guitars each sounded distinct.
You can also tweak the audio profiles using the DTS Studio Sound control panel. Rock sounded best to my ears, while Live was a bit flat. The Stream 11 registered 90 decibels on our audio test, which is much higher than the 84 dB ultraportable laptop average. However, the Samsung Chromebook 2 reached an even higher 93 dB.
The white keyboard on the Stream 11 offers more travel than other Chromebooks we've recently tested, and it shows. I averaged the same 68 words per minute on HP's layout as I did on my 13-inch, albeit with four errors instead of one on the Apple. Still, that's pretty good news for those who want to type longer emails or book reports.
There are two key advantages the Windows-powered Stream 11 has versus Chromebooks: offline capability and a much better app store. While you can do some things offline in Chrome OS, such as Google Docs, most apps require an Internet connection. With Windows 8 you can work on documents, edit photos, or use apps like iTunes or Quicken when you're offline.
There's a war going on between Microsoft and Google, and because of that shoppers will ultimately win. But is the HP Stream 11 a winner? In many ways, yes. This ultraportable is more versatile than a Chromebook, and I like the comfortable keyboard and loud speakers. And while the playful design isn't for everyone, it will definitely stand out in a crowd.
What keeps the Stream 11 from being an Editors' Choice pick is its relatively dim display, below-average battery life and a touchpad that simply doesn't work as smoothly as it should. Assuming you want to stay in the Windows world on the cheap -- and are willing to store a good portion of your stuff in the cloud -- consider HP's Stream 13. That laptop gives you a bigger 13-inch display.
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