Late last year, HP kicked off the Windows war against Google's Chromebooks with its $200 Streambook 11, and now the company is back again to tackle Chromeboxes with its Stream Mini PC.
The Stream Mini is essentially a NUC-sized micro PC with a Celeron 2957U, 2GB of DDR3L/1600 and a 32GB M.2 SSD. In addition to the unit, you also get 200GB of Microsoft OneDrive storage free for two years as well as a $25 gift card to the Windows Store that can be used to buy apps, music, and even Xbox one games. And to further sweeten the deal, HP is even throwing in a keyboard and mouse too for the Stream Mini PC's $180 asking price.
No corners cut, since it's actually rounded
There don't seem to be too many corners cut either. The unit has Gigabit ethernet, four USB 3.0 ports, integrated 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.0, an SD card reader, combo audio jack for headphone and microphone and DisplayPort 1.2 and an HDMI 1.4 port. Windows 8.1 with Bing is thrown in too.
That's not bad when you consider HP's own Chrome OS-based Chromebox, announced last February, sells for $160 to $190 on the street — and that's usually without a mouse and keyboard. When you factor in that the Stream Mini also gives you a full-service OS instead of the light-weight Chrome OS, it's going to be tough choice for consumers looking for a basic mini computer (chime in "just run Linux comments" in 3, 2, 1...)
The Stream Mini won't be the only new mini PC either. HP is also launching the nearly identical Pavilion Mini which doubles the RAM to 4GB, packs a Pentium 3558U processor, and swaps out the Stream Mini's 32GB M.2 SSD for a 500GB hard drive. You also get a keyboard, mouse and just about everything else the Stream Mini provides, except for the One Drive storage. This all ups the price to $319 — which isn't quite as palatable.
In fact, between, the two the Stream Mini is the better deal and nearly as capable. With its M.2 SSD it'll actually boot and respond faster — but that 32GB in total storage will hurt. The good news is that since both are built on the same chassis, I'm almost certain you could crack the Stream Mini Open and drop a cheap laptop hard drive inside.
RAM on the Stream Mini and Pavilion Mini appear to use two standard SO-DIMM slots, so expanding the RAM on the Stream Mini should also be a snap. Both units, HP say, can max out at 16GB of RAM, which would be absolutely crazy to do since you'd have to spend approximately $180 drop in 16GB of memory.
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