HP Stream 7

Four Screens

Back in May 2014 I was looking forward to getting a Microsoft Surface Mini as soon as they became available. I already have a Surface Pro 2 set up as a great developer workstation at home, but I wanted a smaller tablet to replace my original Surface RT. However, the Surface Mini wasn’t announced. It seems like it is a complicated story, and one we won’t know all of the details about for a while. But essentially the Surface Mini was indeed real, and Microsoft held it back because the software wasn’t good enough.

I still wanted a small tablet to fill in the gap between my phone and my workstation though. Even if Microsoft’s top class hardware wasn’t able to fill the gap for me. By the end of 2014 I had given up waiting for Microsoft’s hardware and I decided to take a look at some of my other options.

HP Stream 7

While I have to admit I’m still yearning for a high end device with a magnesium alloy case and pen input, the HP Stream 7 is a fantastic Windows tablet with a competitively low price. It’s made of out plastic, and the battery isn’t as impressive as it could be, but like my cheap Lumia phone – it’s certainly good enough.

I have always been happy with Windows 8.1 and because I’m already well established in the ecosystem, all I had to do was log in with my Microsoft account and all my Windows Store applications were there right away. Here are just 15 of the apps I use the most on the device (not including the many games):

  • Flipboard
  • Cover
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • HealthVault
  • Kindle
  • Netflix
  • Skype
  • Xbox Music & Video
  • OneNote
  • OneDrive
  • Bing Wikipedia
  • Wunderlist
  • NextGen Reader
  • The MSN Apps

I haven’t noticed any issues with any of these apps at all, and the device certainly performs better than the Surface RT I used previously. True the device doesn’t come with a keyboard, but the on-screen one is just fine for the kinds of apps I use.

HP Stream 7 Start Screen

In fact I have hardly used the desktop at all, though I have gone into it change some power settings that I couldn’t find in the full screen PC settings application, a problem that is fixed in Windows 10.

Talking of Windows 10, I’m wondering which version of the Windows 10 UI we will see on the HP Stream 7. The device is essentially a normal x86 PC, and can run the full version of Windows 10. But there’s also a special version of Windows 10 (based on Windows Phone) which is designed to run on phones and small tablets. I’m assuming it will be the full version, but we don’t know that for sure yet.

Update

Just as this post went live I spotted a Tweet from Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore which stated that the HP Stream 7 will get the full Windows 10 experience, including the desktop. I’m unsure if that’s a good thing or not for the way I use it. But it’ll be the preferred option for anyone who uses the desktop.

What’s in your bag?

I’m a big fan of the what’s in your bag and what’s your every day carry style posts that have become an internet trend. People uniquely try to get just the right combination of things they need for their own personal tasks, and it’s super interesting to get an inside look into what they they find important.

I have a few bags, but the bag I carry around most of the time is actually my Tumi work backpack, which goes to and from Branded3 every day.

HP Laptop

My HP laptop for work. I just recently got this one to replace an HP G62 and it is a million times nicer to use. My biggest complaints about the G62 were related to screen resolution, stupid extra keys, and a funny touchpad. All of which are fixed.

I also have a SanDisk SD card plugged in all the time which I use for Windows Ready Boost. I’ve used this in desktop computers before, but this is the first time I’ve done it with a laptop.

Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse

I only just got this mouse, so I’ll be writing a review about it in the coming weeks. I tend to use mice in a bit of a strange way (at -90 degree angle to most people) and it works just fine for my needs.

When I’m in the office I pair this with my Natural Keyboard for epic coding.

Zune HD

I usually have my Zune with me at work for listening to music in the office through our speakers or using my earphones. As most people know, the Zune HD isn’t actually manufactured any more, but it still works with Zune Pass just as well as the day I got it.

Oh yea, and I keep it in an Apple iPod sock. Kinky right? The earphones I use are not pictured here, but I’ve included them in my every day carry post.

SanDisk 16GB USB Stick

This rather beat up looking USB stick where I keep a backup copy of all the scripts and tools I use, as well as installers for all the software I use.

I’ve always had a USB stick specifically for work stuff since I was at Sumo, and it’s a good habit to have as it ensures you’ve always got the stuff you need when something bad happens.

MUJI Document Folder and Notebooks

I’m always carrying some kind of documentation around, and it’s usually A4. Currently I’m using this folder from MUJI for these kinds of documents, and my two Moleskine notebooks for everything else.

Charging Cables, Keys and Pens

I always have charging cables for the laptop, the Zune and a Micro USB which I use for my phone and Kindle. Also keys are pretty important, and so are pens. Currently I’m carrying a Sharpie and a Style Fit Meister 3.

So yea, that’s everything. As usual I try to keep things as simple as possible, and this meets my needs completely.

Why the HP G62 is Horrible

My work laptop is powerful enough for what I’d like to do, but there are a couple of things that really annoy me about the design when compared to my less powerful personal laptop – a MacBook*.

The Pad

First of all, the track pad is pretty terrible. There’s no way to know when you’re at the edge and I sometimes just end up with my finger moving off the pad, and I’m confused as to why the cursor is not moving. It also has a pretty horrible button at the bottom. For some reason my thumb gravitates towards the middle – and clicking there means very little happens.

Apple laptops have these very large and very smooth pads which tend to work really well. But why can’t other PC makers come up with something that’s even close to it? (I know Samsung may have with their Series 9 – I’d like to try it)

The Keys

The second issue – and my biggest issue by far – is addition of the “Quick Launch” keys on the left hand side of the keyboard. Why the heck would anyone want these keys to be on the keyboard in the first place – never mind being right next to important keys like tab shift and control. Every single time I type on the laptop keyboard I hit that print key when I’m trying to press shift. And – as far as I know – there is no way to turn all of them off.

HP aren’t the only PC manufacturers doing this though, even Apple has a strip of specialized function keys at the top – but with Apple the whole experience is much nicer, and I have never pressed any of those keys when my muscle memory tells me I’m doing something else.

* My MacBook runs Windows.