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Specs for the $199 Windows “Chromebook Killer” Leak

Bigger isn't always better — and cheaper doesn't always sell

hp g3

The G3 is HP’s Latest Chromebook

Specifications for a $199 HP Stream laptop, touted by many in the press as a potential ‘Chromebook Killer’, have leaked online.

German tech site MobileGeeks wrangled a data sheet for the 14.1-inch device, one of several low-cost and low-power devices announced by Microsoft COO Kevin Turner back in July.

HP already sell a cheap-ish 14-inch Android notebook and a 14-inch Chromebook. Adding a budget-priced 14-inch Windows 8 with Bing portable to the mix is, perhaps, a logical move.

With an entry point of $199 the Stream has been heralded by many hyperbolic headlines. Now that the full specifications for the entry-level model have leaked, does it live up to the bold claims?

HP Stream Specifications

Let’s start with the part that matters to most: performance. The HP Stream base model is priced at $199. For this you get:

  • 14.1-inch HD Display (1366×768)
  • AMD A4 Micro-6400T Quad-Core CPU @ 1.0 GHz
  • Integrated Radeon R3 Graphics
  • 2GB DDR3L RAM
  • 32GB eMMC storage

Ports include 1x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, full-sized HDMI and (as in the Slatebook 14) integrated Beats™ speakers. The usual itinerary of integrated features are also included: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Webcam, SD Card slot, audio jack, etc.

Performance

On paper, the AMD A4 processor won’t match the performance of the Haswell-based HP Chromebook 14, much less newer models running Intel Core i3 or newer Bay Trail chip. It does have powerful graphics, so should handle rich multimedia experiences — including the Windows 8 interface — with ease.

The performance dip is the price paid to give the portable what so many Windows laptops lack: decent battery life. Newer Chromebooks are able to run for as long as 13 hours on a single charge. The HP Stream won’t rival this; based on the TDW and battery capacity, it should be good  for 5-6 hours of use.

Chromebook Killer?

Comparisons of Windows 8 vs Chrome OS are often wide of the mark and lacking proper context. They also patronise consumers and underplay the inherent strengths of both platforms.

Why? For all its success, Chrome OS is not — and will likely never be — a desktop operating system in the ‘traditional’ sense. It provides a specific kind of experience, tailored to a specific set of functionality.

Unless I missed a memo, the aim is not to out-Windows Windows.

Chrome OS is more like a companion OS; a ‘hands-off’, fuss-free alternative. It’s the one you can just ‘pick up and go’. The one that gets you online in seconds. The one that doesn’t ask you to muddle through a minefield of driver issues, worry about viruses or sift through the back alleys of the internet to find software for basic tasks — which may not even be what it claims.

Chrome OS is not Windows. It’s not a Swiss Army knife trying to do everything at once. It’s a consistent, convergent and cohesive experience. For the average consumer, the one tired of the hassle, bored of the overhead, and not that fussed about continuing to be chained to legacy software they rarely even use, it’s a viable alternative.

People who need or want a full Windows experience (and all that it entails) will always choose Windows.

At $199 the HP Stream will sell — and no doubt sell well. But is it new or novel? Cheap low-end Windows laptops have been available for a long time, yet Chromebooks have still managed to rise from nothing to command a growing percentage of the market.

The list of what a Chromebook doesn’t do compared to Windows is intrinsic to its success. Bigger isn’t always better, and cheaper doesn’t always sell.  

  • http://www.haseebayazi.com/ Haseeb Ahmad Ayazi

    Bit interesting

  • moe

    i still think this is good way to drive Competition from both companies and i think we will see more and more of this in the future as chromebooks begin to gain more market share.

    • http://twitter.com/d0od Joey-Elijah Sneddon

      Windows 8 without touch never quite *feels* right,

  • r4in

    MobileGeeks wrote that battery life “will probably not exceed 5 hours”, which is fairly weak. But hey, it has 4 Beats speakers, a must have for any netbook! /s

  • kunuri

    The price point seems hard to use as a win-condition if only because Chromebooks for a similar or same price are available; in that sense it seems that Microsoft is just banking on brand recognition and brushing invalid arguments against Chromebooks under the rug, acting like this is new and different. I’m not saying it isn’t typical of them, but it feels a little redundant at times.

    • googoolo

      Actually this is a netbook 2.0. In the past Asus with Linux has challenge Microsoft with their EEEE PC and Microsoft respond the threat with under power PC called netbook. This is netbook 2.0. Microsoft underpower junk.

      • kunuri

        Well, there you go. Learn something new every day.

      • Heimen Stoffels

        Only difference being that Asus was stupid enough to choose a Linux for their netbooks that was so dumbed down that even for regular people it was waaaay to locked down. They should’ve chosen Ubuntu or something similar instead. It probably wouldn’t have blown away MS netbooks, but it would’ve at least been a less locked down OS where people could still install their favorite software (either cross-platform or using Wine).

        • Frederic MANSON

          Again, right. And with Ubuntu on an entry price laptop/netbook, that’s a true Chrome OS killer. So, this Stream is a good future Chrome OS killer with Ubuntu as its main OS. I wrote above that this CPU is not still benchmarked, but I think it’s a good 2400 benchmark points which brings it higher than the N2830 and the 2955/2955U.

  • ForSquirel

    Still doesn’t change the fact it runs windows. People who buy chromebooks buy them because they know what they are getting, and if the general public had any awareness about them they’d understand why chromebooks are decent viable options for an everyday use computer.

    • googoolo

      Agree!!! My family choose chromebook because we think chromebook is better than windows machine. My dad & mom always got viruses from email. They didn’t/couldn’t understand that if the email sound/looks suspicious such as “check this picture of ….” we need to think before clicking attachment.

      Back in the old days, once they got viruses and when the only way is to reinstall. It’s really a mess. Backup, scan, reinstall. Not to mention multiple file of the same file across multiple computer. With CB they could just browse the web and have their file automatically over several CB.

  • googoolo

    @joey elijah sneddon

    I was surprised that you think that CB is a companion browsing device. As the owner of omgchrome I think you haven’t understand CB enough. CB is a future computing ideas. A true cloud based computing. Google has done a very great job of creating this device.

    It is true that for some PC (mac/Linux) is a must and they would treat CB as a companion device. But there were a market for CB that CB considered better option compared to traditional PC

    • Frederic MANSON

      To win other the “traditional” laptops, Google MUST optimize Chrome OS with functions that these “traditional” laptops use. I recognize the good points of my Chromebook but I am upset that very few and simplistic basic functions are not used under Chrome OS. It’s really ridiculous!!! And for that, the entry prices for a Chromebook is really not justified. I need and I want the same basic functions that any laptop might have. I do not care about a cloud based OS and cloud based functions. What should I do if I have not an internet access??? Really. The Chromebook is a good machine but its OS lacks a lot of primitive functions to be considered as a “true” laptop when it’s offline. IMO.

      • googoolo

        For some people (i.e. my mom and dad), when the internet down they also don’t know what to do if they use windows or Mac or Linux. They read web, reply email with chromebook. And for other than that they use their android phablet.
        My mom and dad are the perfect example of the right chromebook user

    • http://twitter.com/d0od Joey-Elijah Sneddon

      Oh don’t get me wrong @googoolo:disqus, I’m not diminishing the capabilities and potential for Chrome OS at all. I was just trying to position how the device tends to be used/seen by most people *right now* and that is as one device among others they own (be it an Android tablet or a hulking great Windows 7 PC).

      As I say elsewhere, Chromebooks can, for a lot of people, function as a primary device. When you unchain people from the idea that ‘you need Microsoft office to do real work’ (something Microsoft exploits in its anti-Chrome advertising) it can fit most needs with aplomb.

      • googoolo

        I reread the article you wrote and as chromebook user that don’t have chromebook sold in our country and need to buy from amazon and sent it to our country i feel the exact words you’re using is not powerful enough to show what and why chromebook is the next big things… Why school across America, Singapore, Malaysia choose CB… Why CB growing at crazy rate.

  • andreas.arambasic

    I stopped when the AMD processor was listed.

    • googoolo

      Lol. I think AMD have a very powerful ARM CPU that comparable with Tegra K1

    • P0l0nium

      That AMD A4-6400T is a “Mullins” part on a new process (and it clocks a bit faster than its predecessor) . Its actually quite good compared to an Intel “Bay Trail” Celeron and has Waaaaay better graphics….

      And I’m an Intel stockholder … seriously!! :-)

    • Frederic MANSON

      This CPU is not listed on the Passmark benchmark CPU list. I can only think that it is a 2400 benchmark points one which put it higher than the low N2830 and the mid 2955/2955U. About its GPU, is it a R one??

  • Skid Roe

    For me, this changes the landscape. The appeal of a Chromebook is weight, silence, no overheating and battery life; the reliance on WiFi is a discouragement. If I can get the laptop I want and not have to use Office Online, I’m interested.

    • Frederic MANSON

      I agree with you. Despite having Wifi near everywhere, my box is not fully functional. So, a lot of time, I am out of the web and… what should I do??? The number of offline apps is so ridiculous. I want a true Office Offline like the Office Online which is great AND enough for my uses. Also, I want a true media player with all codecs (why am I thinking about VLC??? strange…) and that’s all. For my coding, I use Carret (offline) and Devdocs (online). I am OK with them.

      About Chrome OS, I dislike the fact that I have to wait long minutes before a small file is being copied AFTER the big ones. It’s not simultaneous!!! Stupid!!! Instead to bring us Material Design and other “look-at-me” tools, they really should work on the actual Chrome OS to correct the tiny but really annoying things that upset me (and I think other Chromebook users).

  • Alexander Kudryashov

    I hope there will be an option to add more RAM.

  • Heimen Stoffels

    IMHO, the only Chromebook Windows killer out there is the Chromebook I have: Samsung Chromebook 2. Full HD 1920×1080 + 4 GB of RAM and 13″ screen, now *that’s* a Windows killer. (only the CPU doesn’t match up because it’s ARM, instead of x86-x64 like Windows)

    • Frederic MANSON

      Right. What should be interesting is how this “Steam” will work with Ubuntu on it, or better, Chromium OS. With such a low entry price, it may be an “alternative” solution to a OOB Chromebook/Linuxtop.

    • view2share

      Really, 1920×1080 on a 13″ screen. Do you use a magnifying glass to read the tabs and bookmarks toolbar items?

      • Heimen Stoffels

        Not at all. It’s all very readable. All fonts are perfectly sized :) (and I mean that!)

        • view2share

          Interesting. Maybe there is some code in Chrome OS browser for a minimum display view of bookmarks and tabs for higher resolution. Good to know it works.

  • JPB

    Good to have competition. Just a shame to see Microsoft doing it wrong. What they should do is move away from the Windows brand. Selling something that works more like an XBox, put it in a lightweight, <3lb clamshell case on it with keyboard. Call it an XBook or something…anything…..just not Windows and not Internet Explorer. Those names conjure up user hostility.

  • Crow550

    Add in Anti-Virus and well see how well it still runs….

    Plus Windows Updates and in time it bogs down and you have to do a clean install.

    Think of clueless people who believe when the phishing fake flash update sites pop up and other easy Windows attacks….

    I mean it’s good that Windows is optimizing for lower end…. This won’t matter much unless Windows 9 manages to be even lighter (hopefully). I still think Windows and Chrome OS are for two different groups.

    For me on my Gaming Desktop I run Windows and when I get a Laptop it will most likely be a Chromebook. Currently eyeing the upcoming Acer 13″ models.

    A Chromebook you can open and bam your online without all the other annoyances is why people love em. They aren’t for everyone…. Same with Windows and Mac and such.

    However we all have so many choices as a customer that we can pick what we want to meet our needs.

    Well see how Microsoft does…. This doesn’t seem really compelling so far though.

    • http://carsonevans.ca/ Carson Evans

      Running a third party anti-virus on windows 8.x is the first mistake

      • Crow550

        Lots will do it though.

      • Alucard291

        no no running windows 8.x on a 199usd device is the very 1st mistake :)

        • balcobomber25

          no no running windows 8.x on anything is the very 1st mistake.

          • Alucard291

            I was trying to be nice :(

  • http://www.nerdofsteel.com Rocco Augusto

    This just screams “Netbook” all over again and consumers have shown time and time again that they do not want a Microsoft netbook. They’re ridiculously slow and under-powered and get horrible battery life and this laptop will be no different. At the end of the day, this will only drive people faster towards Chromebooks when they get frustrated with their purchase and return the item to the store for something more usable.

    Now if only Google or someone else would release a thin and super light updated version of the Pixel. Something with a nicer higher resolution screen, nicer feeling keyboard, and great battery life. Maybe even build nodejs and npm into the operating system so we don’t have to chroot our Chromebooks to use as dev machines. They already managed to get bower working with the Chrome Dev Editor. Oh that is the dream.

    • googoolo

      Agree. Dual boot Ubuntu+chromeOS. That would be a geek dream…. My perfect chrome-notebook!!!

      • dochood

        You CAN do this. You actually have a few choices. You can boot Ubuntu from a USB, you can run it side-by-side with ChromeOS in a chrooted jail (getting the benefit of all the ChomeOS drivers), or (I have not personally tried this, but I have read that it works) you can dual-boot. I personally prefer the chrooted jail approach, as it is the most flexible.

    • http://carsonevans.ca/ Carson Evans

      14″ screen is deff not a netbook. Also as someone who has actually used a windows laptop with an AMD A4 in it, I can confirm that it will run windows at a very usable speed.

      • http://www.nerdofsteel.com Rocco Augusto

        $199 is definitely a netbook. It doesn’t matter if it’s a 11in screen or a 14in screen. At the end of the day it is underpowered and dirt cheap.

        I haven’t used Windows on an AMD A4 but I do have to use a Windows machine using a Celeron and 2GB of RAM for QA testing at work and it is one of the most painful experiences I have ever had to endure. If the AMD A4 is slower than a Celeron I don’t really have high hopes for it. Maybe we have different definitions of what “useable” speeds are :)

        • http://carsonevans.ca/ Carson Evans

          http://cpuboss.com/cpus/Intel-Celeron-2955U-vs-AMD-A4-Micro-6400T

          I don’t know the specific Celeron that is in the computer you tested but…

          Celeron
          – Higher cpu clock

          AMD A4
          – More cores (much better multitasking)
          – Faster GPU
          – Lower power consumption

          TLDR: NO

          • http://www.nerdofsteel.com Rocco Augusto

            I don’t really think having more cores will help too much when it only has 2GB of RAM. The last time I was able to comfortably use Windows on less than 4GB of RAM was when Windows XP SP1 came out. Windows 7-8 on 2GB of RAM is incredibly slow, no matter how fast the CPU is. Even Microsoft’s recommendations for Windows 8 was at least 4GB of RAM.

            Granted as a developer my needs differ from the average user. This might be fine for some people but I highly doubt its going to give Microsoft back the market share it is steadily losing to ChromeOS

          • mjmoon29

            My guess based only on manufacturer specs is this AMD A4 micro 6400T is comparable with the Bay Trail N2930. Both have 4 cores and 2MB cache with the Intel a higher CPU clock speed (1.83
            GHz base) and the AMD a higher GPU clock speed (350
            MHz).
            The only big difference I see on Intel and AMD pages for these is the TDP rating, 4.5 W for AMD and 7.5 W for Intel. Though I’ve often been confused if both companies rate this the same way or not.

          • mjmoon29

            My guess based only on manufacturer specs is this AMD A4 micro 6400T is comparable with the Bay Trail N2930. Both have 4 cores and 2MB cache with the Intel a higher CPU clock speed (1.83
            GHz base) and the AMD a higher GPU clock speed (350
            MHz).
            The only big difference I see on Intel and AMD pages for these is the TDP rating, 4.5 W for AMD and 7.5 W for Intel. Though I’ve often been confused if both companies rate this the same way or not.

  • Heimen Stoffels

    Btw, what test says that newer Chromebooks last 13 hours on a single charge, Joey? Because my Samsung Chromebook 2 13″ is pretty new but I get 6 hours out of a single charge. And I’m not a heavy user even and brightness is always b/w 20-60%. Or is the test about something even newer than my CB2?

    • xxritcheyxx

      He’s talking about the new acer 13 chromebook

    • Donardo Henry

      I have the Toshiba Chromebook 13 and get 9 hours easily (consistent usage: typing papers while streaming Pandora)

    • http://www.nerdofsteel.com Rocco Augusto

      My Acer C720 gets around 9-11 hours of use. I usually charge it up, go to a coffee shop around 9am and leave around 4-5pm and still have a good chunk of battery time left. During that whole time I am coding, with the screen on, and listening to music in the background. I highly doubt I could do that today with any Windows based device.

      • Heimen Stoffels

        Surface Pro 3 gets 8-9 hours with what you’re doing. But both that and your post are beyond my question because I didn’t ask how a Windows based device was performing on battery…

    • view2share

      You may consider returning your Chromebook. The 6 hrs is terrible compared to all other Chromebooks. My Toshiba Chromebook is around 8 hrs. battery life with a faster Intel processor than your Samsung.

    • balcobomber25

      If you are only getting six hours you have a major problem. My series 2 lasted around 10 hours out of the box, today I get around 8. That is with brightness on medium and wifi on all day.

  • disqus_egyQBg9Van

    The only difference between this and a netbook that I can see is Windows 8 w/Bing Mobile. Now if Windows 8 w/Bing Mobile is stripped down and lightening fast, then it can be a viable option for Windows users. But I am on ChromeOS and have been for a while now and do not plan to ever go back as I have everything I need.

  • JusticeL

    Windows 8 on a desktop isn’t a good experience in my opinion. So, making cheaper hardware for an operating system that is complicated doesn’t make it anymore usable. Chromebooks are here to stay. Let’s not forget that Chromebook killer is built using a Chromebook shell. I find that pretty hilarious.

    • Frederic MANSON

      Yup, but to design a new shell costs a lo of money indeed. It’s better for any manufacturer and OEMs alike to use old(er) shells to put on the market cheap laptops. One of the point to follow about these cheap Windows laptops is if Ubuntu will be easily installed on it. The main concern is about the bios itself. UEFI or legacy, if a trick is done to lock these laptops, it’s there…

  • JusticeL

    The fact that HP makes this Chromebook killer is pretty funny. If it wasn’t for Chromebooks HP wouldn’t really be relevant in the consumer market. The Chromebook 11 G1 and the Chromebook 14 gave them life when there Windows based laptops weren’t selling that well except for on Government contracts. We all know they have to give away the slate tablets.

    • googoolo

      Money talk.

    • balcobomber25

      We all know what is happening behind the scenes, M$oft is scared right now. For the first time in decades they are actually losing significant ground to more than one OS (Chrome, Mac, Android, iOS). I can only imagine how much they are paying HP to make this.

  • MadTux

    I love it how MS compares Windows to ChromeOS, practically denying it’s a “proper” OS.

    Yes, I know, but by that I mean a conventional OS with everything on your hard drive, etc.

    • googoolo

      I prefer describing windows as legacy/outdated OS that soon became redundant.

  • CrazyDelta

    Just curious, but is it possible to just install ChomeOS on any machine?

    • Frederic MANSON

      Yup, you can install Chromium OS on any machine. You need to compile the kernel to have your OS fully compliant with the hardware. I invite you to go on the chromium web page for more informations. :p

      • Denis

        Or you can ever download an image from Arnoldthebat. It runs from USB and it works quite well on my Asus Vivobook 200, but I gave up when I had to install the codecs.

        I really rather have an OS with a company behind (google, apple or microsoft) than open source solutions

        • Frederic MANSON

          That’s the problem with Chrome OS: the codecs. If only ALL the available codecs were available… As well as a better “friendly” GUI. I switch to the dev channel and I am surprised that the little things which are working on the GUI are not used for the stable channel. Strange policies from Google…

    • Peddler

      In theory although some of the low-level security features (verified boot) depend on chipsets.

    • balcobomber25

      Check out Peppermint OS for a lightweight Linux OS that is very easy to use and provides the best of both worlds.

  • Mike Hill

    I’m on my second Chromebook and I’m very happy. I wouldn’t buy this but some folks will; not in any great numbers, but some will get sold. I can’t see this as any kind of a game-changer. It’s just another budget PC.

  • Denis

    Usually a solid state drive makes the difference with W8. However, product managers that sell 2GB W8 laptop at media shops or supermarkets should be aligned to a wall and executed.

  • Peddler

    Except the spec will barely run Windows let alone take on a Chromebook.

  • CrazyDelta

    There is a market for this nonetheless. I was thinking of suggesting a chromebook to my sis. She wants a cheap lightweight laptop but doesn’t want to pay ultrabook prices. And because occasionally she may need to use it for work purposes, I could not suggest a chromebook. This will work fine for her.

    • Crow550

      What kind of work?

      Google bought QuickOffice to make Google Docs suite better compatible with Microsoft Office: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/office-editing-for-docs-s/gbkeegbaiigmenfmjfclcdgdpimamgkj?utm_source=chrome-ntp-icon

      Plus you can use Office Online if you strictly want Office for free too: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/online/

      Chrome shortcuts: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/search-apps/Microsoft%20Office?utm_source=chrome-ntp-icon

      What else? Check http://alternativeto.net/?platform=online Categories on the right side in the middle. Or search for the programs she uses and look for Web / Chrome alternatives. ;)

      • RGS

        For the average user, those will suffice. But for some work related cases, switching from MS Office may be a major headache, or even impossible. Chromebooks aren’t suitable for everyone.

        • Crow550

          But you can use MS Office on a Chromebook…. http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/online/

          • RGS

            Yes, but that’s not a fully featured version of MS Office is it? I remember it to be slow and lacking in even essential features. Of course, that was a long time ago. Maybe it has matured well enough to be used instead of the offline version. But then if so, most people would not bother buying an expensive MS Office licence if they can get the same work done for free. I see the online version of MS Office as an answer to Google Docs, and perhaps something to supplement the regular MS Office. And there is still no alternative for MS Access, is there?

          • Crow550

            Well it’s really simple. If a device can’t do what YOU need then get the one that does. ;)

            I do know Quickoffice makes Microsoft Office and Google Docs work together quite well.

            However the user needs to test this out for themselves and decide.

            You have many choices to play with. Microsoft Office, Google Docs, Zoho Office, Libre Office…. To name a few….

            Check out http://alternativeto.net/

          • RGS

            Please dont get me wrong. I personally do not use MS Office at all – Google Docs satisfies all my document related needs. I am just saying there are some cases where web apps just aren’t enough. Another example would be the lack of a proper alternative for Adobe Photoshop / GIMP.

  • Dragonbite

    Doesn’t look too bad… to rip out Windows and put Linux on for a cheap Linux laptop. The benefit of doing it on this rather than a chromebook is the “normal” keyboard layout.

  • RGS

    I find this laptop a bit intriguing. It follows the templates of the chromebooks and does away with traditional hard disks in favor of flash storage – a good thing in performance terms, and could maybe compensate to a certain extent for the lackluster processor (at least when compared to other budget windows laptops which come with hard disks). If it comes with a stripped down version of Windows, it could again help performance. But I dont think it could ever match a chromebook in terms of performance. However, it only comes with 32GB of storage – is that really enough for a Windows PC? For chromebooks, the low storage on offer is excusable to a certain extent, because most applications are meant to run online. It seems the only thing this is fit for, is accessing the web. But if that was the objective, why not just buy a chromebook? Of course, there will always be some people willing to buy this because of the myths surrounding how usable Chromebooks are in the absence of a net connection (myths mostly spread by Microshit of course), and because many people may feel they can use this like a conventional laptop. But HP and Microshit are just going to end up with a lot of dissatisfied and disappointed customers with this one.

    • googoolo

      That’s why this is netbook 2.0.
      The same shity experience like the netbook 1.0

  • balcobomber25

    The problem is it still runs Windows….