Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Next Great Equalizer

The HP stream is my new favorite device.  HP Stream 11-d077nr Signature Edition Laptop


Wait? Whaaaat?

Nope, ya heard me.  Straight up love this little laptop.  It is not the fastest, nor is it the most feature rich.  I love it because it is a great equalizer. 





No, not THAT kind of Equalizer!




I did a side by side comparison with a Chromebook.  A really well made Chromebook.  Both were affordable devices.  Both offered all day battery life.  Both have access to a variety of apps that students will find useful.  Both devices would offer students today a leg up in their education with proper application.  But, I choose the HP Stream hands down, if given the choice.

It runs full on Windows.

Yes you can download and install apps, but for most students, the key productivity apps are found in MS Office.  I can download and install most legacy programs.

It has only a 32 Gb SSD, but this means it is possible to save files to the machine, upload it to a website like my SharePoint classroom, or to your choice of cloud services.

With a full operating system, I can use both installed programs and web based programs.  The Stream can do what the Chromebook can do, and more. 

I can also install Bluestacks which is an android app player for Windows.  This allows me to run android apps on the Stream.  I tested out Angry birds through Bluestacks, and it worked great.


I have been piloting Office 365 with my class.  Students have been making PowerPoint presentations, and the Stream 11 allows them to open the web app with the full featured installed program.  This means they can take advantage of more features than the web app has, and it runs faster as the work is being performed on the local machine.

I couldn’t install Minecraft, as despite it’s simple looking graphics, it is a “hefty” game.  But Kodu and Sketchup ran well on this device.  I have not tested it extensively, across multiple users and with large and complex projects, but for student use I think it will be great. 

I had a number of kids play games on it, with my 9 year old son being one of the chief testers.  He found that games on Miniclip, like Tanki were a bit slow at first, but rapidly caught up (starting at 20 frames-per-second, but quickly moving up to 50 frames-per-second).  My_TankiGames are a very good way to measure the performance of a machine, and if I am realistic, my students want a machine for work and play.  All testers said it wasn’t quite as high performing as their i3 or i5 machines, but it was good enough to be enjoyable.


Also, when it comes to adding pictures, the Stream 11 allows you to save pictures on the local machine or on OneDrive (which is browsable in Windows 7 and 8).  With the Chromebook, my students were able to work in Office 365, but had to save pictures in Google Drive. 


It works like the desktops and laptops we distribute in schools.  This means a shorter learning curve, and that the licenses a district has purchased will be usable on these devices. 

It means better integration. You can hit print if you like.  It also means my students will be familiar with world class productivity software.  I can connect it to our local server drives.

Final thoughts

It costs $250, it can be put in the hands of my students for less than the price of a Chromebook.  If you buy it from “the Microsoft stores, you can get good deals on shipping and most importantly, you can get “Signature” editions of laptops.  This rather innocuous title means no “value-added trial software”, otherwise known as “bloatware” or “crapware.” 

Big box stores will sell you laptops at the same price, but with this bloatware installed, which makes them money. Some even offer a service to “clean up that new laptop” before you take it home.  Should a new laptop need to be cleaned?

I ran it through some pretty demanding critics, my students and my children.  They all agree it doesn’t replace a more powerful desktop, but for day to day use they all agree, it’s a great bargain.


UPDATE: There was a sale.  My friend got one on December 22rd from the Microsoft Store for $179. 

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