HP Stream 7

Over the holidays, Microsoft discounted the HP Stream 7. I was curious about the device, so I picked one up. The hardware itself isn’t that powerful but it matches the budget price.

box contents

Box contents

Hardware

  • 7-inch HD IPS touchscreen 800×1280
  • Intel Atom processor Z3735G
  • 1GB DDR3L-RS 1333 MHz ram
  • 32GB SSD for storage

It doesn’t sound too appealing but for under $100 it hits the spot. The performance itself surprised me. It actually ran quite well. I’ve always stayed away from Atom processors since I messed around with netbooks. The experience with those were just horrible for me. This tablet ran quite well. Navigating around Windows was pleasing and responsive. Where you’ll be reminded about the low-powered processor is during installation of software. Other than that, the experience is great.

tiles

Windows 8.1 with Bing tiles

It has bluetooth capabilities. I have yet to try that out but I’m glad it’s there if I wanted to use bluetooth peripherals.

It has 1 micro USB 2.0 port and a combo port for headphone and microphone. It can connect to 802.11b/g/n with Miracast enabled. You may want to purchase an OTG adapter if you want to play around with other peripherals. I purchased mine from Amazon http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00GM0OZ4O.

OTG cable

OTG cable

You can use MicroSD cards to add storage space. It is found inside by removing the back panel.

back panel

Back panel
SD card slot

SD card slot

The tablet can be charged via micro USB port. I really love devices with this port because cables are easy to replace and are inexpensive. The cables are included but if you lose them or forget them, I’m sure you have other devices that use the same cable.

Software

The tablet is running Windows 8.1 with Bing at 32bit. It is a full version of Windows 8.1 but notice the reference of Bing in the name. From what I’ve read, this is how Microsoft is able to compete in the low-cost device game. This version of Windows is provided as a free license to OEM manufacturers for devices that are sold under $250. You can read more about it at http://www.howtogeek.com/195934/what-exactly-is-windows-8.1-with-bing-do-i-have-to-use-bing/.

windows 8.1 with bing

Windows 8.1 with Bing can run in landscape
windows 8.1 with bing

Windows 8.1 with Bing can run in portrait

Conclusion

Overall, if you’re looking for an inexpensive device that runs Windows, this could be a winner. Don’t expect to do more than web browsing and some light Office documents. If you’re a student or faculty, you may even get additional discounts off the price. On top of that, you get 1 year of Office 365 access. That alone is valued at about $70. Not a bad package for MSRP of $99.

No restore media is included. There is a hidden partition for restoration. If you want to back that up onto an external media, this is where the OTG cable comes in. Because of the absense of a USB port, OTG will allow you to gain access to one. It’s basically a micro USB to USB adapter. You will need at least 8GB to back up the partition. To be safe, just use a 16GB.

I would like to mess with the OS more. I want to install Windows 10 tech preview and try to dual boot with Ubuntu. Or even wipe out the drive and just run Ubuntu. I’ll post my results once I start messing with it. Right now I’m having issues backing up/restoring the factory defaults. I’d like to ensure this is possible just in case I had to revert back to its original condition.

Two failed Ematic tablets

I recently purchased an Ematic EGP007 from Altatac. It was refurbished and was a very good price. It ran Android 4.0. Upon receiving it, the tablet never worked. I turn it on and it would just freeze during boot up. Altatac refunded my money without any problems, kudos to them.

A few days later they had another special on a brand new Ematic EGM002. I figured, the price is good and it’s brand new, maybe I’ll have better luck. So here it is.

tablet

I was able to play with it after a few days. It uses its own app store and you don’t need to create an account. It doesn’t have all the apps that you would find in the Android Play store though, but it’s good enough. If you find it lacking, you can always install Amazon’s app store for the Android. Overall, the performance is what you’d expect for a low cost tablet. When you first run apps, it’s very slow to load. But once it’s running, it’s tolerable.

Unfortunately, the touch screen became unresponsive. I contacted Altatac again, and again they made it easy for me to return the product for a refund. By the way, if this happened to you, the way to do a reset is to hold the power button down for 6 seconds. With the screen unresponsive, I couldn’t even restart the device and it took a few minutes to search online on how to do a hard reset. This could be my last attempt with Ematic tablets. Very affordable, but you get what you pay for. I would buy from Altatac again for their customer service.

Refurbished Amazon Kindle Fire (BOA–broke on arrival)

Amazon recently had a gold box deal of a refurbished Kindle Fire for $139. I’ve been curious about this device even though I already have an iPad 1 and 2 and Asus Transformer. I felt the price was great for me to try it so I bought one. The Kindle came in a simple package. It was in a brown box with the AC adapter for charging and the Kindle itself, and that was it.

IMG_5058

IMG_5059

IMG_5060

The device looked new so they did a great job with the refurbished. I turned it on and I had to set it up with my Amazon account, similar to setting up other Android devices like tablets and phones. Of course, it isn’t mandatory but without it, you can’t make any purchases. The only problem with it is it had 2 lines (red and blue) that ran across the screen. So I went into my Amazon account and was able to process a return. It was very easy and no hassle. This is one of the big reasons why I prefer to shop online versus the store. Amazon has been great with returns and customer service.

Anyway, even with the 2 lines I was still able to play with it for a few hours. I really like the interface that Amazon has created on to of the Android OS. It’s easy to navigate and find things. After logging into my Amazon account, it was able to see all of my past purchases that the Kindle is compatible with such as ebooks and Android apps. Even being used to an iPad and my Transformer tablet, the Kindle Fire felt great as well. I thought it may be small for me.

Overall, after using the tablet I really had fun with it. I only have 2 complaints. The first is the device did feel sluggish at times when browsing around the interface. The second was the screen while watching Netflix. I was in a well lit room so it was bright. I could barely watch movies during dark scenes. The reflection off the screen made it difficult to watch. Other than that, it’s a great starter tablet and a good price. I was a little bummed about receiving broken but it’s a chance with refurbished items. Actually, of the many refurbished items I purchased in the past, this may have been the first bad one. Would I buy another if the sale comes back, probably not for myself. I already have an iPad and Transformer and from what I hear, rumor has it that Apple may be selling a smaller iPad in fall 2012.