HP Stream 7 Review: A $119 Windows Tabletby Brandon Chester on December 19, 2014 8:00 AM EST
When I discovered the Stream 7, I purchased it because I was genuinely intrigued about what exactly you can get for $119, or even $99. Android devices at that price point have always been thoroughly unimpressive and just terrible devices in general. Windows 8.1 with Bing has allowed Windows manufacturers to compete with these devices on every level, as they are no longer held back by the cost of including Windows. I don't know how well this strategy is going to work out for Microsoft in the end, but it certainly works out well for the consumer.
One thing that motivated me was the general lack of coverage for devices at the low end of the market. News coverage and reviews always seem to focus on the newest iPad, the newest Galaxy Tab, or the newest Ultrabook. There's not as much attention paid to these inexpensive devices, and it's problematic because many people simply cannot afford premium devices that cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. If nobody takes a look at the low end, there's also no push for manufacturers to improve those devices. While I don't think that the entire market should race to the bottom, I think that the people who cannot afford the newest and most expensive device still deserve to have a good experience offered to them within their budget.
The HP Stream 7 is not a flawless device by any measure, but no device really is. What can be said is that the Stream 7 does its best to provide a good experience at a great price. There are always going to be compromises to achieve a lower price point, but I think HP has given users a lot of value for their dollar. Including an IPS panel was a choice I applaud, as on a tablet the poor viewing angles of a TN can be a massive problem. It's not the world's best IPS panel, but it's better than many competing devices and it's better than you might expect for a $119 device. Two years ago, the Nexus 7 had a similar panel and cost nearly twice as much.
The CPU performance on the Stream 7 is also very good, and the device was usually very smooth in use. The 1GB of RAM can definitely be problematic, with apps having to reload and taxing applications causing the device to chug, but it's something that can be excused for $119. Graphically intensive applications are going to be more problematic, and this certainly isn't going to compete with the likes of NVIDIA's SHIELD for gaming, but it's still possible to play quite a few less demanding games.
There are some issues that I think could have been fixed, and I hope that in a future tablet HP is able to improve on these things without compromising the quality of everything else. One of these things is the build quality, which is quite good right up until you start examining the back cover. Truth be told, I have four layers of paper cutouts that I've stuffed under the back, and it makes the device feel much more solid in the hand. This may have an impact on thermal performance though, and so I did our testing without them.
If there's anything I recommend for HP going forward, it's to do away with the removable back so the flex can be eliminated, which means adding the microSD slot to one of the sides. I think the inclusion of a 2MP rear camera was also misguided. It seems more like an attempt to just check off a box on a feature checklist. If there's anywhere for a 2MP camera on this tablet, it should be on the front, with the money for the other camera module going toward something like improving the build quality or the battery capacity.
That brings me to my last issue, which is the battery life. 11.1Wh is quite small for a tablet, and unfortunately when paired with the rest of the hardware you get short battery life. Five hours from a Windows laptop might still seem acceptable, but it's far easier to plug in a laptop and interact with in on your desk than to plug in a tablet that you're holding in your hands.
All that being said, I think most of these items can be excused at $119. Some people may feel this is just trying to ignore all the flaws, but the truth is that at $119 a buyer needs to manage their expectations. The Stream 7 provides a lot more for $119 than you would expect. $100 Android tablets can be equally bad in a variety of areas, so the fact that the Stream 7 works as well as it does is a decent starting point.
There is one issue I didn't list above, and it's because it's quite severe and it prevents what I felt could have been a great use case for this tablet. The amount static and noise when using the 3.5mm jack on the Stream 7 is completely unacceptable for any device at any price point. It's actually hard to overstate this, because we're not talking about some minor background noise. The 3.5mm jack is essentially unusable. The fact that this issue made it to production is extremely concerning, and it ruins the tablet's usefulness as a media player unless you use Bluetooth headphones/speakers or are able to use the built-in speaker without bothering anyone.
Overall, I still think that the Stream 7 is a good tablet when evaluated against the many different tablets on the market. It's not the best tablet overall, but I think it's the best tablet at its price point by a large margin. I cannot recommend it to anyone looking for a media player due to the issue with the headphone jack, which is a huge shame because it's able to run Media Player Classic Home Cinema perfectly. I also think that anyone looking for something to act as their main computer should try to save up a bit more money for something with two or more gigabytes of RAM to ensure a good experience when running more intensive software.
But for anyone looking for a supplementary device, or just something to play around with, I think the Stream 7 is a great purchase. Anyone looking for an Office 365 license should also see if they can find the Stream 7 on sale for $99, as it comes with Office 365 for not much more than the cost of an individual license. I hope that HP can improve on the Stream 7 in future tablets, and I hope other manufacturers create their own devices to compete in this price range so consumers will have more – and more importantly, better – options at the low-end.
It's always good to see technology brought to the masses, and HP has made some great progress in doing that with the Stream 7. It's flawed in areas, but if nothing else the price point can get Windows tablets into the hands of many users. That could be equally beneficial to Microsoft, which is no doubt a major part of the reason for the existence of Windows 8 with Bing. More users means there's more of a market for developers to target, which will hopefully lead to better and more abundant Modern apps in the future.
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mkozakewich - Wednesday, December 24, 2014 - linkI've been waiting for this for almost five years. I got a refurbished $200 netbook in the beginning of 2010, and then a $600 pocket netbook (Viliv N5) half a year later, and then a new $200 netbook near the end of 2011. This basically beats all of those, and at half the price.
Evaluate - Monday, December 29, 2014 - linkI bought HP stream 7 tablet and I am fully satisfied with its unbeatable productivity and performance compared to android tablets.
I have used android devices for a while and now having HP stream 7 tablet in my hand for $100 it sounds unbelievable. In android devices either smartphone or tablet your productivity is limited badly. Here in HP stream 7 tablet you can enjoy full windows and can install all software. You don't need to accept any limitation as you can find countless alternative software if one wasn't good enough. Full Microsoft office, you cannot compare it with any toy software in android. You might spend $340 for Samsung Galaxy that runs android and you might gradually make yourself happy with whatever it gives you.
I am very much impressed that I could run full windows and programming applications, unbeatable performance in playing videos and all these just for $100. I am really impressed.
Android might be good for smartphone as the functionality is OK for phoning. However if you want to find, install and use anything else seriously, forget it.
Don Gateley - Sunday, January 4, 2015 - linkSorry to hear about the poor audio jack. The one thing this device and the more expensive Dell VENUE Pro 8 Win 8.1 tablet offer that you can't get with any Apple or Android tablet is the ability to process any audio passing through it from any source on the way to the jack or to Bluetooth.
I have an app that uses that capability which will make the cost of the device unimportant. The function alone will justify the cost. The Dell device has the DSP horsepower needed and I'll have to see if this one does even if it isn't yet a good platform for my app for electronic reasons.
thebeephaha - Monday, January 5, 2015 - linkAnandTech / Brandon Chester - Have you thought about reviewing the Plugable Pro8 docking station that was a Kickstarter earlier this year? Now it's up on Amazon and is designed for the HP Stream 7 (and several other small Windows tablets) to both charge and provide USB device connectivity at the same time.
Looking at the reviews, it should basically turn the Stream 7 into a much more capable little system.
mister qwik - Friday, January 23, 2015 - linkinteresting nice read. using the hp gave a win8 education and it boots faster than my 2 samsung and asus tabs. a blutooth ms mouse fixes finger poking. a lenmar helix powercell fixes power worries. useful items for any tablet sit down session. for any oddities as mentioned the price was right or i wouldn't have one.
junipers - Friday, May 5, 2017 - linkIt's 2017/5/4. I've had the HP Stream 7 for a year and it's been interesting. In the beginning it was little more than proof of concept. Windows 10 ran but it was a device plagued by hardware compatibility problems. Microsoft and its partners have done quite an impressive job in tracking down and rooting out hardware bugs. Hibernate/Sleep now preserve battery life for weeks on end. Recently the wifi connection became stable. Even certain aspects of Windows like Edge have become subtly more usable (though, Edge is still the epitome of mediocrity in terms of details like a non-functional Find and many web pages which don't work properly).
The HP Stream 7 with Windows 10 is still nowhere near as usable as similarly spec'd Android or iOS device, but, it is functional in a pinch if you need to run older Win32 apps in a super portable device. I've run SketchUp and Excel to view documents, and, if you add a BT keyboard and mouse and you've got a super-portable MS Word word processor or PowerPoint designer.
For a lark I put Halo: Spartan Assault on and it runs swimmingly. The only thing wrong with the game and the tablet is Windows 10 and how Microsoft cannot figure out how to disable edge swipes when the game is in full screen mode <droll laugh>.
Windows 10 has improved since I first got the tablet a year ago. After recently doing a Fresh Start the OS runs a relatively lean 14.5 GB with 2.8 GB worth of apps (1 GB for Halo: Spartan Assault). There's still over 11.2 GB free. 300 MB of the 2.8 GB are the Mobile Word, Excel and PowerPoint, and, since it's a 7" tablet, those three are FREE edit-enabled versions even if you don't have an Office 365 subscription. They're not as full-featured as real Office, but, in a pinch they'll do.
MarkWebb - Wednesday, February 6, 2019 - linkIt's Feb 2019 and the original wave or Win tablets are still running - the Stream 7/8, Winbook 7 and 8, the Venue 8. I've got some observations as a long-time owner (but only occasional user) of each of these devices:
1. HP blew it on the audio. The static crackle is still there. But now Mpow bluetooth earbuds only run about $18 on Amazon, so there's that. I even got a warranty replacement on the Stream 7 and it came back with the same static. It's not a constant, there are moments of audio clarity then the static kicks in.
2. Windows 10 version 1809 is superb on these little tablets. About 16gb free on a 32gb version (only Dell offered 64gb versions). I had to wipe out the old factory recovery partitions and do clean installs.
3. Driver support on Dell is awesome with occasional driver updates over the years and even includes Dec 2018 BIOS updates (Spectre Meltdown etc.). HP has drivers on their web page, but NO updates since 2015. Winbook you have to email MicroCenter for a "secret" link to drivers. Nuvision also lacks support.
4. Running on 1gb on 32bit is like having hair transplants without local anesthetic. Consider this a "one app at a time" device and since Chrome opens instances for each new tab, consider limiting to just Facebook, just USA Today if you open tabs on those demanding web pages.
5. 2gb on 32bit is faster than a netbook of yore, slower than a Chromebook on an ARM chip or an N3xxx processor. So, adequate. What 2gb/32bit lacks in speed, it makes up for in running 720p (and downconverting 1080P) H264 files, with subtitles, just fine. But not when downloading Patch Tuesday in the background! MPC-HC will handle the more stubborn files, the built in Windows player app can handle almost everything smoothly and has a better interface, and VLC is sort of ok.
6. 4gb on a 64bit machine is like 2gb on a 32bit machine. What you gain in RAM you lose due to the extra demands of 64bit. So don't complain if your tablet "only" runs 32bit, it might be better performing.
7. Dell Venue 8 Pro is limited to about 79% gamut BUT the color is very accurate. The HP Stream 7 is pretty terrible and is downright unusable unless you go into Control Panel, Display, and "calibrate" sop everything isn't lost in shadows during playback. The colors still seem weird after, but at least you don't feel like you are in a dark room without a flashlight.
8. If you get used to the 2gb/64gb Dell Venue 8 Pro and then try the later, supposedly improved (but actually just cheaper) successor the 1gb/32gb Dell Venue 8 Pro, you will be able to measure the additional delays due to the retrench to 1gb with a hourglass - no stopwatch required. It is so slow sometimes I think it crashed. It WILL play Netflix, Amazon Prime, and run h264 just fine though. So long as it isn't Patch Tuesday.
9. Don't mistake the puny 8" tablets with the fine Dell Venue 10 Pro (whether 720p with Bay Trail, 1080p with Bay Trail, 1080p with Cherry Trail and 4gb/128gb) which has a faster clock speed. Or with the Venue 11 Pro which is a mishmash of 2gb or 4gb, 32bit and 64bit, N3775 and N3795. All reportedly about 80% gamut. With the Dell Venue Pro 11 7140 they shot up to 100% color gamut and entry level was a Core M3, optional M5 and then i3 etc. IIRC. The Latitude 11 was born great, great screen and good Core M.