hpstream7If you’ve ever thought you might like to try a Windows tablet, but didn’t want to risk a significant cash outlay, Microsoft is currently offering a great deal on a name-brand tablet. Microsoft.com has the HP Stream 7 Windows 8.1 tablet priced at $79, including a one-year personal subscription to Office 365 (a $69 value) and a $25 Windows Store gift card. It’s like they’re paying you to take it off their hands!

The tablet has a 1.33GHz Bay Trail quad-core Intel Atom chip, 1 gig of RAM, and 32 gigs onboard storage. Unlike the Windows RT Surface tablets, this tablet is binary compatible with Windows on the desktop, making it effectively a netbook in a tablet form factor. As if to drive the point home, there’s a $90 docking station on Amazon that will turn the tablet into a very low-end desktop.

Granted that you’re probably not going to want to run any resource-intensive software on it, $79 is still a pretty decent price for the kind of performance you’d have had to buy a laptop for just a few years ago. Reviews such as Anandtech’s suggest it would be a decent tablet even at its original $119 price point. At forty bucks cheaper, it’s practically a steal. If nothing else, it doesn’t take a whole lot of processing power to read e-books, and there are plenty of e-reader apps available for Windows.

I ordered one of these tablets a couple of days ago and it arrives today. I don’t expect it to convert me from a happy Android user, but I nonetheless look forward to seeing what it’s like (and whether it will run Scrivener in a satisfactory way). I’ll post a review of it after I’ve had some time to play with it.

It’s still kind of amazing to me that you can now get a cheap tablet that runs exactly the same operating system as a desktop PC. This was unheard of just a few years ago. Maybe it won’t run software with anywhere near the power that a desktop computer can, but like the proverbial dog that walks on its hind legs, it’s remarkable that it’s even possible at all.


  1. I look forward to hearing your impressions. I’ve been toying with getting a cheap Windows tablet for a while, but I really don’t need another tablet. Will it be able to upgrade to Windows 10?

    • I’m not sure; that’s something I should probably look into. I would assume it ought to be, given that it’s basically running the exact same OS as a Windows 8.1 laptop or desktop, rather than the crippled Windows RT that the cheaper first-generation MS Surfaces got.

      A quick Google brings up a forum thread in which people discuss how to get the Windows 10 preview to run on it. It involves some hacking, but is nonetheless achievable. And I already know people have been able to put Linux on it. So I would expect that once 10 is official, it ought to be feasible.

      • @Chris, that’s what I thought. I thought I remember reading that Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for eligible devices for a year after it comes out. If I decide to get a cheap Windows tablet, I want to make sure it would be eligible.

  2. Be aware that there is a dread malady that might be called “More devices, less fun.”

    My greatest pleasure reading ebooks came when all I had to read them at bedtime on a single app on my iPod touch. Now that I have a Kindle 3, an iPad 3 (with multiple ereader apps), and an iPhone 5, much of that fun is gone. Now I have to face the grim business of recalling what ebook is on which device and choosing which to read. It’s like having several cars introducing the problem of “which am I going to drive today.”

    I’m not getting rid of any of them. Each has its uses. But I have decided to not add to that clutter. I’ll stick with each until it absolutely has to be put out to pasture. Then I’ll ask myself if it really needs to be replaced. I’ve already decided that having an iPad means not needing a laptop.


    I’m facing a similar problem with multiplying apps for listening to audiobooks and podcasts. I’ve managed to migrate all my podcast listening to Overcast. It like its time-saving, audio-enhancing features. But for audiobooks, I’m still using:

    1. Audible for bought books with DRM

    2. The iOS Music app. It can play the dozens of books I already have in iTunes.

    3. Apps for the free audiobooks I can get from Librivox and Loyal Books. The plus is downloading from them directly into the app is very easy. Most of the others require some fancy footwork.

    4. Overcast, the podcast app that’s so great at processing podcasts and speeding them up to a just-right speed, can be tricked into playing audiobooks too. That makes for the best and fastest listening.

    That’s way too complicated. Simplify, simplify, simplify I tell myself. But simplifying is itself complicated.

    There are those who refer to this overabundance of gadgetry as “First-world problems.” All that stuff distracts us from what really matters. A kid in a little village in India who’s reading his way through his community’s dozen or so printed books may be happier.

    • @Michael Perry, I also read on my phone, a Kindle and my iPad, but since everything I buy is either from Amazon or Sent to my Kindle, it’s never a problem to remember which device a book is on. It’s on and synced to all of them. Oh,except for books I read in Scribd, but I usually only use my iPad for those, so no need to remember.

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