Just for kicks, I tested the system using the FutureMark Cloud Gate benchmark in 3DMark, generating a score of 1,262--about half as fast as a typical office PC. You won't be playing anything on this beyond a Flash-based casual game. FutureMark's more general office benchmark, PCMark 8.0, returned a score of 1,245 using the basic Home Conventional benchmark, an acceptable level for office productivity tasks. For comparison, the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 gives up about 2,138 in PC Mark 8's Home Conventional test. HP rates the Stream 11 at 8.5 hours of battery life, which I haven't tested, but these Bay Trail-M Celerons do sip power.
The Stream 11 ships with HP's suite of utilities--Connected Photo, Music, and Drive--including a free support option that will help you set up your PC for free over the phone. (After that initial phone call, however, you'll need to pay.)
The notebook connects to the Internet via an 802.11b/g/n connection--adequate, if not advanced. There's no ethernet port, so make sure you have a fast router. Embedded in the lid is an HP True Vision webcam, which records 640x480 video.
A decent 'cheapbook'
I'd normally be hesitant to recommend such a low-end Windows machine, for fear that "bit rot" would degrade the performance even more over time. I'm less concerned about that, however, than I am about the general bit-flation that will inevitably occur as more photos, cookies, apps, and digital detritus collects on the Stream 11's paltry flash storage. Buyers who don't want to become dependent upon OneDrive cloud storage will need to invest in external storage of some sort.
I also have to believe that this chip, running Google's simplified Chrome OS, would deliver smoother performance. The Stream 11 sits right on my line between a system I would endorse and one I wouldn't. I still think that the odd performance hiccup will annoy you, and the lack of storage would tick me off quickly.
But for someone who doesn't buy the Stream 11 with inflated expectations, or doesn't do a whole lot of futzing with their system, it might work out.
Call it a "cheapbook." Call it a simple machine for simple needs. I wouldn't call HP's Stream 11 a Chromebook killer, but it puts Windows back into the game price-wise, and that may be enough.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.