When HP began engineering its PC comeback a few years ago, it started from an unlikely place: A family of low-cost but high quality Stream laptops. This week, the firm has announced the first major revamping of this lineup, which now offers thinner and lighter designs, longer battery life and better connectivity.
That said, the new Stream laptops should be instantly recognizable, thanks to their bold color palettes—Aqua Blue and Violet Purple are available for this go-round—and solid yet affordable design.
The devices are aimed squarely at education and other cost-sensitive markets, as you’d expect. But they deliver some nice perks, like a one-year subscription to Office 365 Personal, a 2×2 Wi-Fi antenna for improved connectivity, and a silent, fanless design. The battery life seems excellent, too, with HP rating them for up to 10.9 hours, depending on model.
Like their predecessors, the new Stream laptops also include what HP calls a full complement of ports, so you can connect to USB peripherals like storage, and to an external display. The devices are thin and light, too: The 11.6-inch version comes in at 18 mm thin at it’s thinnest point, and 2.75 pounds. The 14-inch version is 17.9 mm thin and 3.18 pounds.
New this year is a 14-inch option, which HP had previously only offered on its Stream-like Chromebook. So the 2016 Stream laptops now come in both 11.6- and 14-inch versions. Also tweeked is the design, which gets linear grooves on the outside shell of the screen, where previous versions were simply smooth.
HP is also pushing cloud connectivity with this release, which is both a general marketing point as well as something related specifically to Stream.
“A growing number of customers are relying mostly on cloud-based applications, such as social media sites, online storage and web-based programs,” HP notes in the Stream announcement. “They store their photos on the web, not on their hard drives, and they’re more concerned about the strength of the web connection rather than the power of the processor.”
Specs are a bit hard to come by, but we can expect them to be very low-end and yet capable enough for the markets the devices address. We know that they will come with Windows 10 Home, an HD webcam, stereo sound, 802.11ac 2×2 Wi-Fi, 2 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of eMMC storage.
While it’s not clear when the new Stream laptops will become available, I believe it will be soon. HP will also start selling an HP Stream 11 Pro specifically for education in late September in select countries. This version will be offered in a Jack Black color and an optional RAM/storage (4GB/64GB) choice.
In addition to the new Stream laptops, HP also offers an HP Stream x360 2-in-1 which offers an 11.6-inch display and transforms into four positions. This design comes with four color choices, Aqua Blue, Snowy White, Violet Purple and Jack Black, but I don’t believe it’s new.