I’m penning this article on a £75 Windows tablet from HP – The HP Stream 7. It’s small, cheap and has good battery life. Purchased direct from Microsoft with a discount, this is the first Windows tablet for writing I’ve used to cost less than £100. For this and other reasons I’ll go into, the HP Stream 7 is just the thing for people on the go who enjoy writing. I’ve lots of experience of using an iPad for writing, but you can could buy three Stream 7 tablets for the price of the cheapest iPad.
To make my writing setup complete I’ve teamed the tablet with an inexpensive stand, Bluetooth keyboard and USB mouse plugged in using an OTG adapter and all is working well. So, for around £100 I have a fully functioning Windows 8.1 computer that I can use to write – amongst other things. I found Bluetooth mice were a little bit lag and that if I didn’t want to use my finger then one plugged in was much more responsive. I was finding that the cursor was a little bit laggy.
In the box is a personal office 365 subscription. This enables you to install office and run it for one year at no additional cost. At this point, you will probably realise what a bargain this is. An Office 365 subscription and Windows 8.1 licenses on their own exceed the cost of this little wonder. Excellent value indeed.
As a writer myself, I’m often on the lookout for ways that are going to enable me to get some work done when the opportunity arises. And, for this reason, I often carry an iPad Air around with me. It sometimes can be a little big and I’ve found that the iPad Mini just doesn’t fit my needs. I find that when I use an iPad that I rely on Pages (which is fab) but have longed to be able to use Scrivener whilst I’m on the move. Scrivener has a PC version and is something that I’m looking forward to trying on the HP Stream 7, but of now I’m happily using Microsoft Word. Scrivener on the HP Stream 7 promises to provide the perfect tablet for writing experience, melding affordable hardware and software into one neat package.
This is one of the first things I’ve written on this new setup and plan to use it more often. The typing experience is excellent and now that I’ve found the Auto-Hide Ribbon function in Office I can hide the distracting stuff at the top of the screen.
I’m also a fan of the Auto-Hide taskbar in Windows 8.1 and for me having it sat on the right hand side means that I can make the most of the widescreen.
The HP Stream 7 feels solid in the hand. It is bulkier (see thicker) than an iPad and feels weighty for the size. It still is much lighter in hand than any laptop I’ve held and manages to fit into a jacket pocket. The battery life is better than most laptops – managing a respectable 6 or 7 hours. But it is not as good as the iPad.
Windows 8.1 runs well on the HP Stream 7 – most tasks seem to occur without any spluttering. I’ve limited the number of applications installed to a few essentials and do not intend to run anything demanding like Photoshop, so overall I am happy with the performance.
If you struggle with your eyesight, then this may not be the right tablet for writing, for you. The text is pretty small and wouldn’t suit those who need to play the reading trombone to be able to see things. It is possible to zoom in and out but in my opinion, people with less than perfect eyesight would be better off with a bigger device.
Tried This Before
I’d had hopes of getting this to work before. I’d previously purchased a £200 Toshiba Encore 8 with the hope that it would give me the ability to work more flexibly. What I found with the Encore 8 was some good hardware, let down by poor drivers. The Bluetooth was not reliable enough to use with a keyboard (keys kept on sticking) and the HDMI output didn’t work without some serious meddling. The HP Stream 7 doesn’t suffer from poor software and if you can find your way around Windows 8.1 then it is a solid bit of kit.
As a mobile screen for writing, it performs very well. It promises to be a go anyway companion. As at this price point throwing it in a bag with a charger and bluetooth keyboard won’t add much to your load and provides an incredibly versatile working environment.
The HP Stream costs less than £100 – if you shop around. Go to your nearest electrical retailer in the UK and these can be picked up for £90. I managed to get mine through the Microsoft store for just £75 and is something you should probably look out for. Unusually, Amazon has some of the worst prices for the HP Stream 7 and is probably best avoided.
At £75, for a full Windows 8.1 device, including screen is pretty awesome. Whether it is for you, your better half, or the kids being able to write and research on the go with this little unit is good for everyone on a restricted budget. This is not a cut-down rubbish RT edition, this is the real Windows 8.1 deal. In fact, this tablet costs about the same as a full blown Windows 8.1 license.
I was a bit sceptical about buying a £75 tablet and it being much good for anything. I was wrong. This promises to be my throw in a bag and work anywhere computer of choice as it is small, light and I’m not too concerned about it getting damaged or lost.
If you are not used to Windows 8.1 then you might have a bit of a learning curve. But once you are used to its peculiarities there is nothing stopping you from getting some work done on this pocket PC.