HP has announced new entries in its fledgling Stream family of entry-level devices, finally hitting the sub-$200 price tag promised by Microsoft at the project's original announcement.
Part of Microsoft's Stream PC initiative, designed to offer affordable competition to Google's Linux-based Chromebook devices and to a lesser extent its Android-based tablets, the HP Stream family was expected to début at an eye-catching $199 price tag with fully-licensed copy of Windows 8.1. When HP announced the Stream 14 at $299, then, it came as a shock - but what the company didn't explain at the time was it had a pair of lower-cost devices waiting in the wings to fulfil its software partner's promise.
The HP Stream 11.6 is the device that Microsoft teased earlier in the year: an ultra-portable entry-level laptop with bundled Windows 8.1 with Bing operating system, the machine includes a passively-cooled Celeron processor, 1GB of RAM and 32GB of eMMC local storage - boosted with a one-year 1TB Microsoft OneDrive bundle. Unlike its more expensive 14" variant, the Stream 11.6 costs just $199.99 in the US - putting it on a level with Google's Chromebook devices while also offering full compatibility with the less demanding titles in a Window user's legacy software library. For an extra $30, users can upgrade to a 13.3" model with optional touch-screen display which otherwise retains the entry-level specifications of its smaller stablemate.
'Today's consumers demand mobile products that fit their personal style and allow them to work and play wherever they are,
' claimed Mike Nash, vice president at HP's Consumer Personal Systems division, at the launch. 'The HP Stream products announced today hit the mark with sleek design, portability, access to free cloud storage, and the familiarity of Windows and Office 365.
The three Stream laptops are to be joined by a pair of Windows-based tablets, featuring 7" or 8" displays and imaginatively named the HP Stream 7 Tablet and Stream 8 Tablet. These include an as-yet unconfirmed Intel processor, the same Windows 8.1 with Bing operating system, a year's subscription to Microsoft Office 365 Personal, 60 minutes of bundled Skype time per month, and 1TB of OneDrive cloud storage for a year. The 8" model will also be available with an optional 4G modem which includes 200MB of mobile data transfer for the life of the device - although the company has not yet indicated whether this offer will be valid for buyers outside the US. The Stream 7 Tablet is priced at $99.99, with the Stream 8 priced at $149.99.
All devices are due to launch in the US in November, with international availability and pricing yet to be confirmed. Further details are available on HP's webshop for the Stream 7 Tablet
, with the remaining devices yet to be listed at the time of writing.