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The HP Stream 8 is one of the best affordable Windows tablets that we have seen and the optional keyboard case makes it a great product altogether. There are a few issues here and there but overall, it's worth the money.
HP has finally shown interest in the low end consumer technology segment and announced a bunch of products this year. One of them was the Stream 8 tablet which on paper is not very striking, but with the optional keyboard folio case, it looks quite interesting. Here is an in depth look.
Display: 8 inches IPS, 1280x800 resolution (188ppi)
Camera: 5MP rear, 2MP front
SoC: Intel Atom Z3735G
CPU: 1.8GHz quad-core
Operating system: Windows 8.1
Connectivity: 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
BODY AND DESIGN
The Stream 8 doesn't offer a very fancy design, rather it goes for a standard plastic build. The front has an all glass panel which has the 8-inch display underneath. The bezels are fairly well placed and not very large leaving enough room to hold the tablet. The front also houses the front camera and a capacitive Windows button as well. The glass panel can attract some fingerprints and smudges but the display is fairly bright and offers good colour levels. Viewing angles are fair but the display panel is a bit reflective and attracts fingerprints and smudges.
The tablet offers a thickness of about 9 mm and with a weight of just 388 gms, it doesn't feel very heavy. It has nicely rounded edges and soft plastic all over, which reminds you that this is essentially a budget Windows device.
The right edge houses the power and volume control keys, the bottom edge houses two stereo speakers and the top edge has the 3.5mm audio jack and the microUSB port. The back has the 5MP camera and some branding logos. The finish of the plastic back panel is not very impressive as it is flimsy and is again a fingerprint magnet. The back panel can be removed to reveal the microSD card slot, the micro SIM card slot and the battery which is non removable.
For a budget Windows tablet, you cannot expect a lot from the build and design. The Stream 8 doesn't offer the best of design or the build quality, but it isn't the worst that we have seen either.
The tablet can be paired with a smart looking keyboard folio case which is available as a separate accessory for Rs. 3,000. The case itself has a nice finish and has a full QWERTY keyboard which sticks on the inside of the case with some magnets. There are flexible slots on the inside where the tablet can be strapped securely. These slots can be adjusted so even a 7-inch tablet, like a Nexus 7, can fit into this case.
The keyboard itself is Bluetooth enabled and pairs easily with the tablet. The case expands the productivity of the Stream 8 as you can quickly make edits or make your browsing experience simpler. The keys are sturdy and offer nice feedback as well. The keyboard folio case is a must have accessory if you are buying the Stream 8.
PERFORMANCE AND UI
The Stream 8 runs on Windows 8.1 and comes loaded with 1TB of free One Drive cloud storage and Office 365 for one year. The app UI and the desktop mode, both work perfectly fine and you can easily install apps and software. Like with all Windows 7-inch and 8-inch tablets, the usability takes time as the desktop mode can get a little tricky with a touchscreen, but after a few days you get around with the gestures and swipes making it a comfortable tablet for your everyday work. The touchscreen is quite responsive and even without the keyboard dock, typing on the tablet doesn't feel cumbersome.
The tablet is powered by an Intel Atom Z3735G quad-core processor clocked at 1.8GHz with 1GB of RAM. This combination provides enough power to the tablet for extensive multitasking and even occassional gaming as the Windows app store does offer some good looking titles. The tablet can handle full HD videos with ease and games like Asphalt 8 didnt show any signs of lag or frame drop.
Power consumption is not bad as it comes with an 8 hour 20 minute rated battery backup and we managed to squeeze out almost 8 hours out of the tablet.
The tablet is not as powerful as an affordable netbook, but in its range, the Stream 8 is probably the smoothest Windows based tablet we have tested.
MULTIMEDIA AND PRODUCTIVITY
For the ones who indulge in multimedia, the tablet throws in a mixed bag. While the dual stereo speakers are loud, video playback and even gaming is smooth, the camera department is not impressive. HP has not put a whole lot of effort to include good camera sensors, however it can be used for the occassional video conference.
The keyboard case is highly recommended as it expands the productivity of the tablet and it makes it convenient if you are editing documents or browsing the internet.
The Stream 8 is a great option if you are looking for a portable Windows based device and with the keyboard case, it is definitely wortht the money. A netbook is always a better option but for the ones who want something much more portable, this is a good option. You can also go for the Dell Venue 8 Pro which is slightly better in design but there is no keyboard available with it.