Tablets HP Stream 8 mini-review.

Discussion in 'Alternatives to iOS and iOS Devices' started by Anonymous Freak, Dec 3, 2014.

  1. Anonymous Freak macrumors 603

    Anonymous Freak

    Dec 12, 2002
    Okay, thanks to Amazon's ability to pay with Discover cashback bonus directly, and an Amazon gift card from work, I picked up the new HP Stream 8 last week. For those that hadn't heard: it's an 8" Windows 8.1 tablet. Not the "Windows light" Windows RT, but full-blown same-as-on-desktop-computers Windows 8.1. It uses an SOC quad-core Atom processor that is roughly on par with the A8 from a raw performance perspective. Not Earth-shattering performance compared to a desktop PC or even an ultrabook like the MacBook Air, but certainly still a decent "consumer tablet". 1 GB RAM and a 32 GB SSD (about 20 GB were free on first boot,) round out the basic specs. A bit light on RAM for 'full Windows', but if you avoid massive multitasking, it doesn't chug. (Note: I did have iTunes and Chrome running, with Chrome uploading mp3s to my Google Play Music account, while running Steam and a light-use game, and it didn't choke.)

    Good quality 1280x800 IPS screen (which at 8", with my less-than-perfect eyesight, is as good as my iPad Air, "Retina" to me, although people with better vision than mine would likely find it lacking still,) with essentially perfect viewing angles. Five-point touch input, which Windows doesn't take very good advantage of anyway. Interestingly for being a "full Windows 8.1" system, the only external port other than the headphone jack is one micro-USB port whose primary purpose is charging. The USB controller shows up as a USB 3 controller, but it's only a USB 2.0 port. It doesn't show up as a device when I plug it in to another computer, so it appears the primary purpose of using a micro-USB was its standard as a charging port. It does support the "USB OTG" (USB On-The-Go) spec, so you can get an adapter that will let you connect any other USB device to it you want. The only problem is that it doesn't support charging at the same time, even though USB OTG+charging adapters do exist. (I tried it with a USB OTG+charging dock, it doesn't charge.) So I have the silliness of a full size USB keyboard and mouse connected to such a small device.

    Also no video-out, so you'd need to use a Miracast device or a USB video adapter, neither of which are good for games, but are generally fine for videos. The microSD slot is under the removable back panel, as is the cell SIM slot. So the microSD is useful as "extra hard drive" more than for easy swapping from a camera.

    Note the cellular SIM. That's a big selling point. It says it has LTE, but I've only gotten an HSPA+ connection so far. It comes with a T-Mobile SIM, and qualifies for T-Mobile's "200 MB a month for free for the life of the device" offer. I activated that, which didn't ask me for any billing information at all, then got a new T-Mobile SIM to add to my family plan ($10/month for "same data cap as the highest one on your family plan" which for me is 5 GB/month.) So now I have "a whole heck of a lot of data" for $10/month, but with the original "200 MB/month for free" SIM as backup, or for when I go to sell it. (I taped it to the inside of the back panel so it's there.) As none of my other T-Mobile devices have LTE, I don't know if there just isn't LTE service where I've tested it. (I know there isn't at my home, but I don't know about at my work.) Still, over HSPA+, it got 5 Mb/s. Not too shabby. And even if you don't buy a plan, having that 200 MB/month as "emergency on-the-go" data is nice to have as a backup when you're going to use it primarily as a WiFi-only device. (I went the first two days on the original SIM, and kept my usage to under 20 MB.)

    This is my first touch-enabled Windows 8 device, and I must say that Windows 8.1 on a touch device is very nice. I like being able to use an iOS/Android-like touch-optimized interface for most things (Windows 8's "Metro" interface plus Windows Store apps,) yet have the ability to drop to the full desktop-style Windows if I need it. The full Microsoft Office is a nice bonus, too. (Oh, did I mention that it comes with a one-year Office 365 subscription?)

    I have, as previously mentioned, used desktop apps quite a bit (I have some gnarly Excel spreadsheets that the iOS/Android versions choke and die on, that this handles just fine.) I've done 'light gaming' (Minecraft, the obligatory Solitaire, a few simple independent Steam games like Papers Please and Machinarium.) It scores on 3DMark far higher than my 4 year old low-end Windows notebook does. (Core 2 Duo with Intel HD 3500 graphics, IIRC.)

    All in all, a really usable alternative to an iPad mini.

    And the best part? $179. (Although with the previously mentioned credits, my out-of-pocket was about $50.) For barely more than it costs just to add LTE to an iPad, you can get a whole full-Windows tablet with LTE. And get a one-year Office 365 subscription to boot (it's a full subscription, so it unlocks the full versions of Office on one other device, too.) That's a freakin' steal.
  2. AppleRobert macrumors 603

    Nov 12, 2012
    I think the general consensus here has been full Windows on a small tablet is not optimal.

    Any I have tried were returned.
  3. DeathTheKid macrumors member


    Aug 12, 2013
    That's pretty cool. Yeah, I could see some uses for having a full desktop on a small tablet (like having full Chrome or Firefox).

    I found out a few days ago my parents are getting me an Asus Vivotab Note 8 for Christmas. Largely to take notes, but it might be fun to play around with the desktop side of things.
  4. TacticalDesire macrumors 68020


    Mar 19, 2012
    Inside the metro interface windows tablets are great. Once you venture into the desktop side it can be hit or miss depending on the screen size of your tablet. I find it to be great in a pinch when you really need to get something done that you can't on a normal tablet. But as an everyday productivity machine I think it will choke. With a keyboard stand It would be a great MS Office device for taking notes in class, but come exam time when everybody has 15 tabs open studying and has all of their Onenote and Word docs open, even a $250, Celeron, 4gb RAM, 500gb HD laptop would fair better. I mention college student because that's what I see a lot of these devices being marketed towards.

    I like windows tablets and think they serve a purpose, I just think that right now they're in that awkward middle school stage where that haven't quite figured out who they want to be.

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