HP Stream 11 X360 with 3G Convertible Notebook Review
HP had somewhat of a hit over Christmas with their HP Stream 11. The low-cost 11.6-inch Windows laptop has been a constant fixture in the Amazon.com top 10 laptop lists and, along with the 13-inch version, has racked-up a respectable 700+ reviews on the site. The HP Stream 11 X360 takes a similar approach to the Stream 11 by offering the low cost entry into Windows 8 touchscreen 2-in-1 computing. The HP Stream X360 has 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of SSD and starts at 299 Euros in Europe. The version we have here is the HP Stream 11 X360 p001ng which includes HP's DataPass 3G bundle at 349 euro. This configuration isn't currently available in the USA but the HP Pavilion X360 11t is and it and comes with a spinning hard drive and a smaller battery. Given that there aren't many data-inclusive offers available in Europe this is quite a unique deal. Read on for the full review.
We have the (very) blue version of the HP Stream 11 X360 here (there's a pink option too) and it feels really solidly built although the down-side of that and, we assume, the rotating hinge is that it feels quite bulky. At 1.5 KG this is 50% heavier than the lightest 11.6-inch Windows laptops like the Acer E11-111 and the ASUS X205 but those laptops don't have the touch layer which always adds 100-200 grams to the build. The feel of the plastics is good, the fitting is good, the keyboard area and screen have little flex and, of course, it's an eye-catching color. The graded blue/turquoise keyboard surround isn't quite as clean as the rest of the design but it will probably be OK for the target audience. The SD card slot will allow the removable storage to sit completely flush inside the unit so there's scope here for permanent usage of a large SD card. Given the 32 GB (total) eMMC internal storage and the lack of HDD upgrade option this is important.
Inside the unit we found a 43 Wh battery which partly uses the space where a hard drive would be in the similar HP Pavilion X360 11. That model only has a 2-cell battery at 29 Wh so although you won't be able to put a hard drive in this one.
Around the HP Stream 11 X360 you have a good range of ports starting with the SIM card slot (Mini SIM in a standard-size SIM card holder. A standard sized sim will slot in without the card holder.) and that's next to the full-size and depth SD card slot. One USB2.0 port, One USB3.0 port one full-size HDMI port, an Ethernet port (100Mbps) and the power connector. On the left hand side you will find a Kensington lock hole, the power buttonnd USB 2.0 port, headset port and volume rocker. Two speakers are located on the underside of the unit. The rear of the unit is all hinge.
The 3G (only) module supports multiple bands and revisions of the UMTS standards with maximum download speeds of 22Mbps. We got 7 Mbps in one of our tests and saw 5 Mbps download speeds in a number of locations in mid-day tests. Obviously there are time and location issues to consider but reception does seem at least slightly above average. The 3G module is not locked to the SIM card which allows other SIM cards to be used. The HP DataPass feature comes with 200MB of data free every month. This data is also available for use when roaming in a number of countries and from the HP information on the German page we saw the following countries listed:
Great Britain, Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Poland, Holland, Hong Kong, Finland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Portugal, Norway, Singapore, Malaysia, USA and Columbia. Some of those countries come online from the 1st Feb 2015. [Information source.]
In addition to the 200MB it's possible to buy one-off top-ups and to make regular monthly payments to increase the data. Rates are quite reasonable:
+ 500 MB 9,90 € inkl. MwSt.
+ 1 GB 11,90 € inkl. MwSt.
+ 2 GB 20,90 € inkl. MwSt.
+ 15 GB 99,90 € inkl. MwSt.
If you want a repeating monthly data package, the costs are as follows
1 GB (Total 1,2 GB) 10,90 € inkl. MwSt.
2 GB (Total 2,2 GB) 19,90 € inkl. MwSt.
5 GB (Total 5,2 GB) 49,90 € inkl. MwSt.
There's no contract to sign and monthly payments can be cancelled at any time. There's no unused data 'roll-over' so any unused data at the end of the month gets lost. We haven't been able to test roaming performance which is provided by Fogg Mobile across a number of partner providers. Registration in Germany requires a photo-id which can be scanned in as part of the registration process. ID verification takes 4-6 days but the service is available for immediate use. A Windows 8.1 app can be downloaded to assist with data management and purchase of additional data.
For information on current Fogg partner networks and T&C's, see this Foggmobile page. In Germany the service uses the E-Plus network.
WiFi and Bluetooth
The Broadcom BCM43142 bgn WiFi module support single-channel (n) only and maxes-out at 72Mbps connectivity which might be a problem for those working in heavily-used WiFi environments like apartment blocks of offices. Reception seems average compared to other devices we've had in our test environment. Bluetooth worked for file transfer but we didn't use it for audio. The module does support WiFi Direct, Bluetooth LE and Bluetooth High Speed. Wired communication is supported through the Gigabit Ethernet connection.
For a low-cost laptop the keyboard on the HP Stream 11 X360 is quite good. Well-spaced large 'island' keys, a good solid feel, very little keyboard flex and good quality materials can only really be improved with a backlight. Function keys are 'reversed' to provide media controls, brightness and airplane mode with a single press.
The metallic keyboard surround is blue and provides a comfortable contrast to the white keys. HP have done a really good job for the price. The trackpad isn't as good though...
While standard use of the trackpad is good and multi-touch gestures work we felt that the mouse button function on this was a little too hard. For those that are used to tap-to-click it's OK but right-clicking was harder. Maybe it's an indication of ruggedness and we shouldn't mark it down for being a solidly build component bit we would suggest thinking about how you use a touchpad before you buy. If you're a light-touch user and rely a lot on touchpad for right-click menus it might be an issue for you.
The 10-point touchscreen works well with good responsiveness all-round. It's glossy (read more about the screen quality below) and, when the screen is clean, easy to drag and drop items around, even on the desktop. It's mostly thanks to a low resolution that program menu elements are easy to select using a finger and it gives the user another mouse and mouse-button option, easing the issue of hard touchpad-clicks as mentioned above. Don't forget that when the screen is opened beyond 180 degress a screen touch will bring up the on-screen keyboard and the keyboard is locked out.
In general we found the display quality to be poor even before we put it under our test equpment. This is a basic LCD-TN screen with low maximum brightness, poor color representation and black levels. The 2K-resolution Timescapes video we used to test with has very poor contrast and side-by-side with the same playback on the Surface Pro 3 and showed a lack of dynamic range.
The contrast level of 493:1 is poor and delta values on the colors (variation from trueness) are too high for a modern laptop.
Maximum brightness doesn't even reach 200 cd/m² which might be OK for indoor use but could be a problem near windows. (For example on trains and in cars for video playback.)
Poor viewing angles accompany the poor color reproduction aspect of the 11.6-inch 1366x768 screen to make it the weakest point of the HP Stream 11 X360.
The HP Stream 11 X360 uses the Baytrial-M entry-level PC platform which is, in general, good enough for daily use of a browser, video playback, basic photo editing, basic Office usage and Windows 8 Store games but it is in no-way a 'barrier-free' desktop PC platform. Unzipping large files, preparing online applications and even basic video editing is going to be a problem and 2 GB RAM will be a limit if care is not taken to limit the amount of applications running. As we move towards Windows 10 we might see more suitable applications appearing in the Windows Store so where possible users should try to use these options rather than the more heavy-weight and uncontrolled desktop applications.
The Intel Celeron N2840 dual-core processor can be found in a number of laptops, most notably in the HP Stream 11 (non-convertible) that has been an Amazon top-seller recently. Performance is just enough to give a smooth browsing experience and allow the user to comfortably run Office apps without too much delay. The SSD helps to boost the overall snappiness of the device but this is no processing monster. Full HD Video editing is well out of reach (720p clip sequencing should be possible) and advanced audio processing will be too much for the processor. Current Windows 8.1 Store games do work well but that performance does not extend to current 3D desktop games.
We see no surprises in the processor benchmarks we performed as all the results fall within the expected range. Turbo Boost works well and there seems to be no throttling of short-term benchmarks which can be a problem on some higher-end fanless devices.
|Peacekeeper - --- (sort by value)|
|HP Stream 11 X360|
1537 Points ∼25%
|Lenovo N20p-59426642 Chromebook|
1402 Points ∼23% -9%
|Sunspider - 1.0 Total Score (sort by value)|
|Acer Aspire ES1-111-C56A|
521 ms * ∼6%
|Toshiba Satellite Radius 11 L10-B-101|
318.1 ms * ∼3%
|Asus EeeBook X205TA-FD005BS|
488 ms * ∼5%
* ... smaller is better
System performance is always improved with the use of solid-state drives and even though the eMMC SSDs used on the low-end laptops are slower than most SATA SSDs there's enough speed and and low-enough latency to help in most situation. This is reflected in the reasonable PCMark 7 score. Some comparisons are shown below.
|PCMark 7 Score||2564 points|
The storage solution is based on a solid-state technology but uses eMMC rather than SATA as the interface standard. It's not as fast as SATA solutions but has much quicker access times and small-block transfer speeds when compared with a cheap rotating hard drive. Speed tests are shown below. Note that our AS SSD test kept crashing after the first write test. Results from Crystal DiskMark are good for sequential read speeds and slightly below average for 4K write speeds but not so bad as to cause any blocking, In general the operating system 'flowed' well when in use. A comparison of 4K write speeds is shown below.
Baytrail-M graphics, based on the Gen-7 Intel HD graphics architecture, are a big improvement over the previous generation but still not capable of mush smooth desktop gaming. Minecraft works, at a pinch, and World Of Warcraft is smooth if you're prepared to drop down to minimum resolution and quality settings but we would recommend sticking to Windows Store games which, in our tests, were smooth. Sonic Dash was fun, smooth and touch-capable, for example.
|3DMark 06 Standard||1894 points|
|3DMark 11 Performance||232 points|
|World of Warcraft (2005)||52||34||fps|
Note that we were only able to install World of Warcraft by using a USB 3.0 SSD drive as the install location. More details on this install can be seen in this video.
Thanks to a fanless motherboard and non-spinning storage there are zero noise emissions. Given the folding modes this could make a nice media player when connected to a large-screen TV and HiFi system.
This fanless PC doesn't heat up too dramatically under load. We detected heat above and below the area of the 6 key during a load test but otherwise there's no build-up of heat. Note that concurrent charging and usage will cause a great build-up of heat than without charging.
(+) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 36.6 °C / 98 F, compared to the average of 35.3 °C / 96 F, ranging from 21.8 to 55.7 °C for the class Convertible.
(-) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 48 °C / 118 F, compared to the average of 36.5 °C / 98 F
(+) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 24.9 °C / 77 F, compared to the device average of 30.3 °C / 87 F.
(+) The palmrests and touchpad are cooler than skin temperature with a maximum of 25.1 °C / 77.2 F and are therefore cool to the touch.
(+) The average temperature of the palmrest area of similar devices was 28.9 °C / 84 F (+3.8 °C / 6.8 F).
The stereo speakers are of average quality but clean even at maximum volumes. For radio streaming and YouTube playback the quality and volume is good enough but the X360 won't fill a large room with good quality sound - as you'd expect with most laptops. Digital audio is available through the HDMI port (multi-channel uncompressed) and through the Bluetooth and Miracast (both compressed) wireless connectivity. Analogue wired output is available through the headset port.
Power consumption at the wall socket is shown in the tablet below. Power consumption from the battery is shown using two measurements. The first is the battery report generated by Windows 8. This is based on actually usage over a day and extrapolated to show the predicted 100% charge battery life. The second set of results are shown below and are based on our tests.
|Off / Standby||0 / 0 Watt|
|Idle|| 4.2 / 5.6 / 5.9 Watt|
10.9 / 13 Watt|
Key: min: , med: , max: Voltcraft VC 940
The HP Stream 11 X360 idles well and, possibly due to low-power back-lighting, can last for 12 hours without a charge. Under video playback or WiFi browsing the 43.8Wh battery returns over 6 hours of usage in both cases. There's no Connected Standby support on the HP Stream 11 X360 so extremely low-power screen-off operations like music-streaming aren't possible through the Windows Store apps. Full-load, full brightness working over WiFi can result in a battery life as low as 4 hours.
The HP Stream 11 X360 is a good value, portable 2-in-1 with an appealing 3G data-bundle that enables online-working in situations where a WiFi-only laptop couldn't. Battery life, keyboard and build-quality are excellent for the price but there are two issues to note. Firstly the poor-quality screen falls below expected standards for a laptop and especially so for a multi-mode 2-in-1 where wide viewing angles are more important. Secondly the weight means it's difficult to use in fold-back tablet mode mode. If these two issues aren't so critical for you then this relatively unique combination represents great value. The HP Stream X360 comes with Office 365 and 1TB of storage (OneDrive upload capability for one year) and can be very much viewed as a cloud laptop that would compete with devices like the Lenovo N20P Chromebook and even the 10-inch ASUS Transformer Book T100 and Acer Switch 10 although the keyboards don't offer as much comfort. The most direct competitor is the Toshiba Radius 11 but that doesn't come with 3G, thus making the HP Stream 11 X360 the perfect European InterRail laptop.