The HP Stream 14-ax040wm gives you more laptop than you're paying for. It is priced with students in mind, as it unties the conventional wisdom that you have to pay a premium for an ultraportable laptop. And, it undercuts most of our recent Chromebook review units.
- Very good battery life
- eMMC solid-state drive (SSD) speeds up operations
- Good selection of ports
- 32GB storage is quite lean
The HP 14-ax040wm is a compact budget laptop that is designed to compete with inexpensive Chromebooks. It’s a full Windows 10 PC for folks who can’t bring themselves to use a browser-based laptop since Chromebooks only use Google’s Chrome OS which can be quite limiting. With a basic Intel Celeron processor and lots of extras from Microsoft, like 1TB of OneDrive storage and free Office 365 Personal for one year, there’s definitely much to like about the Stream 14.
Even when compared with other budget Windows laptops we’ve reviewed previously, the Stream 14 is compelling with its versatility, affordability and lots of extras. It gets competition from its smaller sibling the HP Stream 11-y010nr, but the larger display is quite something, and it polishes the Stream 11’s quirks.
Design and Features
The Stream 14 has a slim and light design, almost half weight the a traditional notebook, so its extremely easy to carry around. In fact, it fits into the most little of spaces including on an airline tray table or even in your laps at the local McDonalds as you edit a TPS report or term paper.
The black aesthetic is very easy on the eyes, and the plastic looks high quality than some entry-level laptops and Chromebooks we’ve seen. The white chiclet-style keyboard has good travel, has a nice contrast to the chassis hue, is full size and is comfortable to type on, and the one-piece touchpad is responsive. Here you don’t get a backlit keyboard, but that’s among the few tradeoffs to make in order to keep it affordable.
Narrow viewing angles are perhaps the only minor flaw you’ll find in the Stream 14’s screen. While looking at the screen while seated too far to the sides, the images appeared washed out dark, but it isn’t a deal-breaker. In-Plane Switching (IPS) screens like the one on the ASUS Transformer Book T100HA-C4-PK have better viewing angles and display smoother text, but the Stream 14’s LCD is certainly fine for a budget laptop. The sound output is loud enough to fill a small room, although they are a little tinny.
Storage and Ports
Storage comes in way of 32GB on an on-board eMMC solid-state drive (SSD) and 4GB of system memory. After the initial setup, you’ll have around 46GB on the drive free. Still, the 32GB doubles the 16GB we’ve previously seen on most Chromebooks. The HP Stream 14-ax050nr gets 64GB storage, but both options can be supplemented locally using either a USB drive or via the systems’ microSD slot. As mentioned earlier, HP includes a one-year subscription to 1TB of online cloud storage on Microsoft OneDrive and use of Office 365 Personal with the system.
After the first year, you’ll have to subscribe on a yearly or monthly basis. Still, for that first year, you’ll have fully functional copies of Access, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, PowerPoint, Publisher, and Word. The license also includes one install of Office on your phone and on one tablet as well. Wireless connectivity is standard 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 combo.In addition to the microSD card slot, the system’s HDMI port, headset jack, one USB 2.0 port, two USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports are all on the sides of the system. The three-cell, 41-watt battery is non-removable.
The HP 14-ax040wm uses a 1.6GHz Intel Celeron N3060 processor with integrated Intel HD graphics and 4GB memory. That doesn’t sound too impressive, but remember that it’s a dual-core processor and the system’s SSD does help speed things along. During testing, I was able to reboot quickly and launching most programs was only a matter of seconds. Its performance is far much better than budget laptops that use traditional spinning hard drives including the Dell Inspiron 15 (Non-Touch).
Essentially, the Stream 13 is best at day-to-day tasks, but can handle the occasional photo or video edit, as long as you have some time to finish each task. This is a basic laptop and gaming or 3D scores are not worth talking about, since the last time I checked most budget laptops only returned single-digit frame rates; but, they suffice for playing browser games like Angry Birds.
Battery life is where the HP Stream 14 shines. It lasted 9 hours 17 minutes on our battery rundown test. That’s hours better than the Acer C720P-2600 (7:20), Dell Inspiron 15 Non-Touch (3531) (6:19), the HP Pavilion 10z (6:38), the Lenovo G40 (5:56), and the Toshiba CB35-A3120 Chromebook (7:04). The only system that beat it in this price category is the HP Stream 11 (9:23), and that’s by only by a scant 6 minutes.
A Windows Laptop at the Price of a Chromebook
The HP Stream 14-ax040wm gives you more laptop than you’re paying for. It is priced with students in mind, as it unties the conventional wisdom that you have to pay a premium for an ultraportable laptop. And, it undercuts most of our recent Chromebook review units. The speedy eMMC SSD makes it faster than most budget Windows PCs, and if you have constant Internet access you won’t have to worry about running out of room on the 32GB SSD.
Its immediate competitors include our Editors’ Choice for budget laptops, the Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575-33BM, which has a seventh-generation Intel Core i3 processor, a 1TB hard drive for storage and a 15-inch Full HD screen. Overall, the HP Stream 14 is the all-day portable PC I would pick for the affordable price and great design, thus, and can easily recommend for anyone in the market for a value, lightweight laptop.